The number of Trinity students going on Erasmus and international exchanges has dropped by around 70 per cent, Provost Patrick Prendergast said last night.
In a tweet, Prendergast said that 204 students were leaving Trinity to go on exchange this semester – “30 per cent of the usual number”.
The Provost congratulated the Trinity Global Relations Officer “for creating these opportunities. “We wish each student a life-changing & safe learning experience”, he added.
France, Germany and Spain are the most popular destinations for students. Some 51 are spending their exchange in France, 19 in Germany and 16 in Spain.
College went against the grain on exchanges after the pandemic. As Dublin City University, University College Dublin, the University of Limerick and University College Cork rushed to cancel their Erasmus exchange programme, Trinity announced that it would allow students to make up their own mind about studying abroad for the first semester.
College did, however, discourage students from studying abroad, if their host university had switched to solely online learning.
Trinity also changed the requirements of integrated programmes to mean that exchanges were no longer mandatory. Students who wanted to return to studying in Trinity could return, as long as they did so before the last day of week four of the first semester.
During the onset of the pandemic in Europe, Erasmus students were in large parts left in the lurch, not helped by poor communication from their host universities.
Others had to grapple with different academic structures, making assessment difficult, while others still had to deal with the headache of having to quickly abandon flats that they had already paid rent on.
Niall Alsafi – a student of economics and German, who was due to attend the University of Cologne for a semester – had to grapple with such awkward rental scenarios. “Landlords in Europe were not really understanding of the whole situation. A lot of them were just worried about the contract”, he told this newspaper last year.
College has a history of giving students more latitude when it comes to decision making than other universities. Last year, for example, Trinity did not tell students studying in Hong Kong to come home, despite the deteriorating political situation in the country.
One, third-year BESS student Conor Kilbane, who was studying in City University, told The University Times that he had experienced the protests in full colour.