Erasmus exchanges are to proceed for Trinity students in Michaelmas term on a voluntary basis, College has informed students on Friday.
In an email to students, College announced that they would not be cancelling the Erasmus programme for the upcoming Michaelmas term and plan to facilitate exchanges “where possible”.
The email, which was signed by Professor Juliette Hussey Vice President for Global Relations, stated: “Trinity College has been a very active participant in the Erasmus programme since it was launched in the 1980s, and we strongly believe in the educational value of student exchanges, where students participate in learning alongside their peers in universities abroad.”
There will be changes to the Erasmus programme due to worries about student health during the Covid-19 pandemic. The email said that “all Erasmus exchanges will be voluntary for the forthcoming year”, meaning no Junior Sophister year abroad will be mandatory for this year’s students.
All requirements for courses such as Russian or Middle Eastern languages will be facilitated at Trinity should students choose to not participate in an exchange.
The email read: “Students who wish to undertake an Erasmus exchange may do so as long as the host university is accepting inbound students, ideally providing in-person teaching, and it is safe to do so.”
“We would however discourage students from proceeding on an exchange in a University that is planning wholly online learning,” the email added.
The email urged students who wish to participate in an Erasmus exchange to make an “informed” decision.
Students who choose to proceed with their planned exchange but experience difficulties there should note that they will be able to reintegrate into their programme in Trinity as long as they return before the end of week four of the Michaelmas term. After this point, students who withdraw will lose the semester.
Any request to go “off-books” in deferring an exchange for a year will be managed by the Senior Lecturer’s office, however priority will go to students who are currently in the year below.
The email continued: “The Covid-19 situation is fluid and nobody can predict how things will unfold. There remains the possibility of a second wave and the return of lockdown measures.”
“Bearing this in mind, if the situation changes dramatically before September, the measures outlined here may be revised,” it added.
A decision on exchange due to take place in Hillary term is expected in September.
This approach is different to announcements from other Irish universities in recent weeks. University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of Limerick (UL) have suspended all exchanges for the first college term, with Dublin City University (DCU) scrapping its programme for the entire year.
Trinity had cast doubts about the exchange programme in early April, saying in an email that future plans were “unclear”. The TSM office made the decision to delay the process of asking students to select their major subjects for the coming year.
Students on exchange this year faced difficulties as the crisis began. Many European universities began to close before Trinity, and students were forced to return home before travel restrictions were implemented.