In the unprecedented times of Covid-19, UCD has been putting measures in place to allow students to continue their learning. Students who are currently studying abroad have been particularly affected and in recent days university staff have put in place alternative arrangements for students unable to complete their full credits in their host university.
In mid-March, UCD students studying abroad were told ‘continue your studies as planned.’ In the case of universities, like UCD, which have gone to remote learning students were also told to ‘continue your studies, ensuring that you are in a safe location.’
Recently, the university has contacted students regarding the unfortunate situation in which host universities are closed and do not offer any facility for remote learning. In an email sent to Arts and Humanities students abroad, an alternative was given to students in this situation or those who cannot personally access online learning, which is the opportunity to submit a report on their international exchange. What is notable about this step is that the report is not graded and that it means students who have no option but to complete the report will have the lost credits made up for them.
The email says, ‘This report will replace the learning agreement you are not now in a position to fulfil in your host university and make up for any credit shortages.’ Such students have been given assurances that with this move, they are not expected to need to gain extra credits in their final year or over the summer trimester. Such students will be relieved that they are not put at a disadvantage, and it does mean the hard work they have put in will translate to credits necessary to complete the year.
The ‘Report on Erasmus/International Exchange 2019-20,’ will offer students the opportunity to reflect on and analyse their experience of studying abroad. The guidelines suggest a length of 3500 words which will be read by exchange coordinators. While the ungraded report is far from the ideal university learning experience envisaged by international exchange students, it is difficult to see a perfect solution to the problem. What is key for students who find themselves in this position, is that they are not put at any disadvantage to others due to the COVID-19 measures. While the scrapping of their credits for their international exchange is certainly not ideal, students can be relieved their final year will not also be impacted.
Conor Paterson – Politics Editor