State of affairs: How Coronavirus is affecting student mobility:
On 11th of March 2020 the WHO has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As we see many new cases appearing across Europe, the Erasmus Student Network would like to express its sympathy to everyone affected by the virus.
Due to the outbreak, many of your universities and workplaces, as well as our local student organisations have taken preventive measures and cancelled classes, meetings and group events, and have potentially also advised against international travel.
The virus is severely impacting the regular student life, both for international and local students, as many university campuses are closing down and lectures are being postponed or moved online. ESN stands for unity in diversity and calls for tolerance and equal treatment of the international exchange student population regardless of their nationality or appearance in these trying times.
Message for students:
We call upon all students to stay informed about the current developments in their host and home countries. We recommend you to stay in touch with your host and home universities and stay informed about the latest instructions given by your universities and national authorities with regards to respective health measures. Stay informed and follow the most up to date information from the World Health Organisation.
In case your exchange has already started, we advise you to stay in your host destination if possible unless your home university or your country has initiated a mandatory student recall, if this is the case, please follow their instructions. We understand how difficult the situation might be, being in a foreign country in an emergency circumstance like this. We urge you to exercise caution and avoid large gatherings even if there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your area; please note that in some countries such gatherings may be banned by law.
The travel bans are put in place in order to prevent and slow down the spread of the virus, for this reason, you should avoid unnecessary trips as this is one of the most effective ways not to make the virus spread and to protect yourself and the others around you. COVID-19 is highly contagious and even if young people statistically have a much lower risk of serious cases, one single person infected or carrying the virus presents a critical threat to everybody around them, even if they might feel fine.
In case your mobility has been cancelled - we sympathise with the loss of your exchange experience and hope your educational path will not be impacted by this and you will be able to have another opportunity at a later stage. However, we urge you not to disregard the decisions taken by relevant authorities which led to the suspension/cancellation of your mobility and stay in your country. We advise you to inquire about the ‘force majeure' clause of your Erasmus+ Mobility Agreement at your home university.
Despite the cancellation of the events and classes - please remember that the ESN local volunteers are still there to help you in any way that is possible in their current situation. Do not hesitate to approach them in case you cannot resolve your current problems. We are stronger together than we are alone.
Message for universities:
Throughout this process, we trust that all European Higher Education institutions offer updated information about the appropriate measures to be taken by exchange students in their institutions.
We understand that COVID-19 has impacted the daily activity of universities and hope that universities and national authorities will communicate health and safety instructions to international students in languages suitable for the target group. We encourage universities to clearly explain how this will impact the mobility experiences of the students, preparing answers to the following questions:
Will this impact permanent evaluation and examination activities, and in which way?
Will this impact the academic calendar, and in which way?
What are the student’s rights in the case of cancelled and/or postponed mobilities with regards to their funding and course schedule?
Will the ‘force majeure’ clause be applicable for their mobility, and what does this mean concretely for the student?
In these trying times, it is important to ask for clear communication. ESN asks for each university to try to find solutions in order to prevent the exchange student to be heavily impacted due to financial losses and/or an increase in study duration.
We also expect that all HEIs will take appropriate measures while containing the outbreak, protect international students from stigmatisation and discrimination, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.
Internationalisation is one of the core activities of ESN. We believe in the enrichment of society through internationalisation and support the principles of free movement of people while understanding and respecting the necessity of the temporary restrictions. For more than thirty years, the Erasmus Student Network stands by international students. We believe it is only by showing continued solidarity in these challenging times that we will be able to overcome them together and find solutions for all our citizens.
Read the statements of the ESN national branches:
Erasmus Student Network Portugal