While a handful of Trinity students have received the first instalment of their Erasmus grant, others remain waiting three weeks after Trinity News revealed that a multitude of students studying abroad on the exchange programme were yet to receive the grant. Students in Scotland, Denmark, France, and other Erasmus host countries cite delays and miscommunication from College as stressors while on exchange.
English and Film Studies student Hugh Whelan is among those who have received the payment, but he described it taking “an absolutely furious email from me for [College] to respond”. In an email seen by Trinity News, Whelan was told that his payment had been processed and he could expect to receive it on November 13. Following the non-arrival of the instalment, Whelan enquired as to the status of his grant, and was informed that there was “an error with our fees team”.
Whelan later received his grant instalment on November 15. “It all just seems very mysterious and random”, says Whelan on the payment process.
Students must submit a Certificate of Arrival once they have reached their host university and sign their Erasmus grant agreement before the first instalment is processed.
Katie Craig, who is on Erasmus in Copenhagen, received her first grant instalment on November 7. Craig submitted her Erasmus grant agreement form in June ahead of the July deadline and her arrival form the week she arrived in Copenhagen.
Trinity’s official Erasmus grant agreement document states that students are to receive 70% of their grant within the 30 calendar days following the completion of the individual student’s grant agreement. College must also sign this agreement in addition to the student. The document does not stipulate a deadline by which College must sign the agreement.
Sophia McDonald, who is doing an Erasmus exchange in Tours, France was asked to resubmit her form on November 8, four months after she initially submitted it before the deadline in July. “It was a bit strange, they didn’t give me any explanation really.” McDonald says the office told her they only had some of the pages of her form. “I presume they lost some of them”, says McDonald.
McDonald is among a multitude of Trinity students on Erasmus who are still waiting to receive the first instalment of their grant as the first academic term draws to a close. McDonald is still awaiting her grant despite being told on November 16 that her grant had been approved. Her grant must now be finalised by the fees team before McDonald can receive it. Speaking to Trinity News, McDonald described: “I’ve been waiting this long that it feels like I’ll never get it.”
“I supposed to get my grant over three weeks ago,” says Jean McCarthy, who was told she would receive her grant on November 1, but is still waiting. McCarthy, who is on Erasmus in Denmark, reports noticing that the grant amount she was owed is showing as a negative number in the fees section on the my.tcd.ie online portal. She emailed the Erasmus Office and Academic Registry twice enquiring as to the sum, but had not received a response as of the time of print.
Former Erasmus student Aoife MacGillycuddy received her final grant instalment last week at a lower rate than which she had originally been informed. MacGillycuddy, who spent last year studying abroad in Vienna, was initially told she would receive €280, but only €225 was paid to her account when she received the instalment on November 5.
In emails seen by Trinity News, a representative of the Trinity Erasmus Office told Aoife: “My deepest apologies as I can see from the emails that I did tell you the amount of 281.70 euro, where in fact the amount you are supposed to receive is 225 euro. So, I can confirm that the is the [sic] final grant instalment, I just made an error in telling you the amount.”
History student Eoin O’Donnell, who is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, reports that he only received a personal response to queries on his instalment on November 14, when he was told the payment should reach his account within a couple of days, and by November 20 “at the latest”.
“I’m checking my account like ten times a day at this stage and still nothing”, O’Donnell told Trinity News. “It’s getting very desperate.”
Sociology and Social Policy student Órlaith Hennessy also received an email informing her that her grant was released on November 14. In an email seen by Trinity News from the Trinity Erasmus Office to Hennessy, she was told: “The payment… was released on the 14th. Please keep an eye on your account as I would expect the funds to have reached you by now. Sorry for the delay.” Hennessy received her grant over a week later on November 23.
Hennessy, who is studying abroad in the University of Copenhagen, has still not received her grant. Hennessy told Trinity News that outgoing Erasmus students were informed they would receive 70% of their Erasmus grant after processing their forms, which Hennessy completed in mid-September.
The grant, known as the Erasmus Mobility Grant, is designed to cover travel costs between the student’s home and host countries, as well as the difference in living costs between the two countries. Students participating in an Erasmus exchange who are EU nationals are eligible to apply for the grant.
In 2016/17, grants were based on an €8 per day rate for students on exchanges in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Students on exchange in Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey received grants at a rate of €6.45 per day.
Students in receipt of Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grants are eligible to apply for extra funding during an Erasmus exchange, while disabled students are also able to apply for additional funding.
It is estimated that an Erasmus year comes at a cost of approximately €7,000 for a seven to 10 month period, depending on the student’s host country, accounting for accommodation, food, and flights.
College did not respond to a request for comment.