The number of Trinity students choosing to study abroad this year has taken a significant hit amid concerns over Covid-19.
Only 159 students are travelling abroad on an Erasmus exchange this semester, which is a major drop compared to the usual uptake of the programme. Similarly, only 45 students are on an international non-EU exchange this term.
In previous years, the number of outbound Erasmus students from Trinity was significantly higher – 350 in 2017/2018 and 394 in 2018/2019 – according to figures released to Trinity News last year under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.
The most popular destination this year is France, with 51 students travelling to the country this semester, according to figures shared on social media by Provost Patrick Prendergast.
19 students are moving to Germany for the semester on Erasmus, 16 to Spain, 13 to Belgium and 11 to Sweden.
Prendergast said that “204 students [are] outbound from Trinity this semester on Erasmus and international exchanges, about 30% of the usual number”.
“We wish each student a life-changing and safe learning experience,” Prendergast added.
Eight students are studying in the Netherlands for the semester, six in Poland, six in the United Kingdom, four in Denmark, and four in Finland.
Only two students have chosen to spend their Erasmus in each of Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy or Switzerland, while just one student from Trinity will study in each of Malta and Turkey.
45 students are spending the semester abroad on international non-EU exchanges, with almost a third – 12 – choosing the United States and 11 opting for Canada.
Six students are to study in Australia, six in Japan, three in Hong Kong, and two in China.
College has listed two students as spending the semester in “Israel/Palestine”.
South Africa, South Korea, and Lebanon will each receive one student from Trinity.
France, where Trinity has over 20 partner universities, has long been a frequent choice for Trinity students on an Erasmus exchange. Figures released to Trinity News last year under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 showed that 109 Trinity students studied in France in 2017/2018 and 122 in 2018/2019.
In May, Trinity decided to proceed with Erasmus exchanges on a voluntary basis, which meant that students studying a language, for whom time abroad would typically be compulsory, would not be required to go on an exchange.
An email to students at the time, which was signed by Vice President for Global Relations Professor Juliette Hussey, said that “all Erasmus exchanges will be voluntary for the forthcoming year”.
“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,” the email said.
“We would however discourage students from proceeding on an exchange in a University that is planning wholly online learning.”
University College Dublin (UCD) and University of Limerick (UL) chose before the summer to suspend all exchanges for the first semester, while Dublin City University (DCU) said it would cancel the programme for the full year.