Study abroad programmes take a hit due to Covid-19

Aoibhín Meghen

Uptake of Erasmus or study abroad programmes in Trinity College (TCD) dropped by 70 per cent in the first semester of this year according to Provost Patrick Prendergast, as reported by the University Times.

Trinity was one of the few Irish universities to allow students to go on Erasmus or exchange this year.

Technological University Dublin (TUD) also allowed students to go on Erasmus or study abroad as did the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).

DCU cancelled all Erasmus programmes for the 2020/2021 academic year within the university in May of last year.

UCD, University of Limerick (UL) and NUI Galway (NUIG) also each cancelled outgoing Erasmus programmes for this year’s autumn semester with NUIG extending this cancellation to the spring semester also.

In a statement made in May, then DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said: “Our plans for the coming academic year are driven by three principles: protecting the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, providing the highest quality education possible for our students, and optimising the broader student experience within the constraints imposed by COVID-19.”

Trinity student Ali MacIntyre travelled to Spain as part of the Erasmus programme in early January. She studies Business and Spanish so studying abroad is always something she imagined herself doing.

“I was so disappointed when I thought it could have all been taken away. I was really lucky that [Trinity] decided to allow individual students to make the decision” she said.

For many students like MacIntyre, Erasmus can have an important impact on their degree as it allows them to immerse themselves into the language they are studying.

According to a study from the European Commission, people who take part in an Erasmus programme boost their employability skills. 

The study which looked at the impact of Erasmus on higher education reported that 72 per cent of students said it had been beneficial or highly beneficial in finding their first job.

Other students are finding it a welcome break from being in lockdown. Ellie Tyndall studies New Media Studies in IADT and has gone on to Barcelona for this year’s spring trimester.

“I needed a change in environment, even if it meant that I was still in lockdown in a different country” she said.

In Tyndall’s course students can either do an internship or an Erasmus and originally Tyndall had hoped to complete an internship abroad however she was unable to secure a position abroad as internships are limited due to Covid-19 so she decided to study abroad instead.

According to Tyndall the process of going on Erasmus was more complicated than normal as there was extra paperwork to fill out and she had to get tested but she found it easier to get accommodation due to the lack of tourists.

Aoibhín Meghen

Image Credit: Grace O’Sullivan

Note: This article was reuploaded on 26/03/21 due to a fault with The College View website.