Uncertainty surrounds the fate of next year’s Erasmus programme for Trinity students, with no decisions as yet from the College amid travel and distancing fears as a result of the coronavirus.
While the University of Limerick (UL) last month suspended its Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes, which were scheduled to proceed next autumn, Trinity says it is “actively working on planning for various scenarios” when it comes to the schemes.
In an email statement to The University Times, Niamh Burke, the associate director of partnerships in Trinity’s Global Relations Office, wrote: “We are working closely with Trinity’s senior management, partner universities and affected students on this subject.”
“Since much also depends on the positions our university partners and the European Commission as regards Erasmus, it is a fluid situation”, she said, but added that “the Global Relations Office and other relevant departments are actively working on planning for various scenarios”.
Trinity declined to offer specifics on the plans it is considering.
Travel restrictions and fears about the spread of the virus will likely force many colleges to consider the viability of Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes over the coming months.
UL told students due to travel abroad next year that it was suspending the programmes due to “current travel restrictions and with no indication when these will lift”.
The email, signed by UL’s Critical Operations Team and Executive Committee and seen by The University Times, said: “After much consideration and with regret, we have decided at this stage – so as to allow for alternative planning for our students – that the Erasmus and Non EU Exchange mobility programmes will be suspended for the Autumn Semester and alternative programmes will be put in place for those UL students who had been scheduled to study abroad for their Autumn Semester.”
“We realise that this is very disappointing for students, but at present it is the only safe option”, the email said.
Meanwhile, The University Times reported last month on the issues faced in recent months by Trinity students abroad – including academic problems, accommodation struggles and issues finding flights home.
Some said communicating with their host universities was proving difficult, with time differences and a language barrier making it hard to get clarity on many issues.
Students who had to leave their rental accommodation suddenly to return home are grappling with how to recover their belongings, while some students due to go on Erasmus in Germany – where universities start their second semester later – never made it.
Many students praised Trinity for its response to the crisis, but some said they felt measures around exams – including College’s efforts to mitigate the detriment to students – had not included them.