Postgraduate Erasmus students unhappy over being assigned undergraduate student status

The students are unable to access normal postgraduate privileges and facilities

NEWS

A number of postgraduate Erasmus students studying in Trinity, who have been allocated undergraduate student status in the college, have been unable to avail of normal postgraduate entitlements and are seeking to be reregistered as postgraduate students.

Roxana Stauber, a postgraduate student studying medieval history in Trinity on Erasmus from her university in Austria, is leading the group seeking postgraduate student status.

Speaking to Trinity News, Stauber said that all of the affected students are postgraduates in their home universities and applied for Erasmus postgraduate placements in Trinity. However, upon arrival at Trinity at the beginning of this academic year, they were allocated undergraduate student cards and told that they would be registered as undergraduate students. She is aware of at least five other postgraduates on Erasmus in Trinity from a range of disciplines who have been affected by this problem, but suspects that there are more.

When contacted about this issue, the academic registry stated that, although the students are postgraduates in their home universities, because they are taking undergraduate modules as well as postgraduate ones in Trinity, they are deemed to be undergraduate students.

However, Stauber and the other students insist that they were never informed that they would be treated as undergraduates in Trinity. She commented that, although her Erasmus coordinator at her home university told her that she could take undergraduate modules as well as postgraduate modules if she wanted to, it was understood that she would be treated as a postgraduate student in Trinity either way. The other affected students were given to understand the same thing: “We didn’t even think that we could possibly be downgraded.”

The students are unable to access any of the postgraduate facilities on campus, such as the graduate common room, and they are also restricted to undergraduate borrowing rights in the library.

“We were all confused when we registered on the Trinity portal and it listed us as undergrads… We didn’t apply for bachelor’s placements, we applied for master’s postgrad placements,” she explained. “It’s a new country, it’s a new language, everything is new, and then we have this problem… and we don’t where to go and what to do,” she said.

She explained that one of the main issues that their undergraduate status is causing the students is a lack of representation in college. “We don’t actually know who is responsible for us,” she said. Stauber was unable to vote in the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) class representative elections earlier this academic year because she did not have a postgraduate student card.

The academic registry is now trying to accommodate the six students and, according to Stauber, will change their status to that of postgraduate once it has received confirmation from the students’ Erasmus coordinators that they are taking postgraduate modules as well as undergraduate ones.

The GSU has become involved in the matter and is seeking to change the system so that “future postgrads who come to Trinity as Erasmus students will not face the same issues” and will be recognised as postgraduates from the outset, she said.   

Students affected by the issues discussed in this article can contact Gianna Hegarty at [email protected]