University College Dublin (UCD) has suspended all Erasmus+ and Non-EU Exchange programmes for the Autumn Trimester 2020.
The popular Erasmus+ scheme which allows students to travel abroad to partner universities across Europe has been cancelled for all UCD students between September and December due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of UCD Global, Dr Douglas Proctor, said in an email to students today: “Having considered the varying public health advice in different host countries, the current travel restrictions nationally and internationally, and the uncertainty as to when such restrictions will be lifted, it is clear that it is not currently feasible for UCD students to plan their exchange activities adequately. The risk of travel cancellation is high and a growing number of host institutions are indicating that they are no longer able to receive students in the Autumn Trimester.”
Dr Proctor also indicated that “alternative study plans” will be worked on which “may include suitable future exchange options” for students.
In an attached document to Dr Proctor’s email, one statement read: “We realise that this is very disappointing for students, but at present it is the best option in terms of ensuring the health and safety of students, and reducing the disruption to their academic programmes.”
The document also informed students that had planned to study abroad in only the Autumn Trimester, that deferring to the spring trimester will depend on UCD’s partner universities and goes on to say: “in many cases, they will not have the capacity for additional students in the second trimester.”
Students will be allowed to study in UCD in the absence of an Autumn exchange.
Spring 2021 exchanges are still scheduled to go ahead, but students have been advised not to book travel or accommodation at this time. A final decision on Spring Trimester exchanges will be made in September.
In the 2017/18 academic year, UCD welcomed over 1,000 Erasmus+ and Non-EU students on exchanges. In the same year, almost 800 students studied abroad in partner universities around the world. It is understood that these exchanges are a source of significant income for the university.
The university has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with UCD projecting a negative impact of up to €100 million by the end of the year.
Last year, UCD had 8,428 international students on the main campus (full-time students, not exclusively exchange students), 3,984 students in overseas operations and a total of 33,285 students enrolled worldwide. Non-EU undergraduate students can pay between €10,000 and €55,000 for tuition fees alone, while postgraduates tend to pay between €10,000 and €35,000. With thousands of internationals likely to stay in their home countries next year, the loss of income for UCD may prompt cuts in services, supports and capital projects on-campus.
Outlining that students will not be expected to suffer financially, President Deeks has told The College Tribune: “We do not expect to impose any additional costs on students beyond the increases already communicated,” referencing the rent increases on-campus next year, going on to suggest, “there are likely to be delays in continuing our improvement in student: faculty ratio, in implementing additional student support measures and in executing some elements of our capital programme.”
Conor Capplis – Editor