Students currently on Erasmus have complained about a lack of support during the summer, trouble registering for modules, and a need for clarity on other universities’ form of assessment.
One anonymous Joint Honours (JH) Italian and French student told Trinity News they chose to go on Erasmus because they would otherwise have to complete an eight-week residency.
The student attended the Venetian University and thought that they would be able to study their course there: “Venice was offered to me by the Italian department in Trinity so I think it was safe to say, I assumed they would, in fact, teach my course.
“I was then sent an acceptance letter from the Venetian University stating that I could enrol there for my first semester and continue my studies of French and Italian.”
However, the student started facing difficulties with module enrolment during the summer, struggling to apply for a sufficient number of modules to pass the semester: “After emailing the Venetian University throughout the summer and explaining that I have to take my classes in French and Italian, they continually only sent me modules that were taught in English.
“At this stage in my application process, I was very sure I would be going
on Erasmus and had received emails from Trinity that I did not have to apply for
modules on myTCD.ie as I was going to be away for the year.”
“I kept emailing about modules but to no avail, as both universities were on summer leave so responses were slow. I was stressed but I assumed it would work itself out when I arrived as after speaking to previous Erasmus students, I had heard that the modules often change when you get there.”
On arrival in Venice, the student was able to find three modules to fit their course: “I was frantically emailing Trinity to explain this situation and was basically referred to a different person each time. It seemed no one wanted to take responsibility for this situation or to try and help me.
“I had quit my job in Dublin to be here, left my old housing, and moved all my belongings and my life here just to receive an email from the head of Erasmus three weeks into living here on a Friday evening saying that I would in fact fail my year at Trinity if I couldn’t find more classes.”
After a lack of communication from their department, the student decided to move back to Dublin in fear of failing the academic year: “Trinity informed me this was a ‘very complex case’ and that they would hold a department meeting about it to help me. I never heard back about this from them again.”
“I made the decision to return home within two days of receiving these emails as I knew if I waited any longer for help, I wouldn’t have the option of returning any more”.
Other students have spoke to Trinity News of a similar lack of clarity from schools, such as one European Studies student who complained about a lack of information about teaching and learning styles at their exchange at the University of Strasbourg: “Since the classes are overwhelmingly French students, it is all assessed and taught rigidly in line with the French education system which is wildly different from the Irish education systems”.
“Had I known the assessment style, lack of international students and support for international students in place I would have not chosen it.”
The student said they are well aware of the difficulties in acclimating to a new country, being an international student themselves, however they told Trinity News that “this transition from Trinity to Strasbourg has been so much more frustrating and difficult than my transition to Trinity mostly due to the lack of information provided when I left trinity and the lack of support and understanding on Strasbourgs end”.
“It very much feels like because I am not physically in Trinity at the moment that I’m not their problem anymore and I feel very much isolated and on my own when it comes to my education,” they said.
Conall Ó Briain in JH History and Political Science said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the clarity of information and guidelines before attending the Autonomous University of Barcelona for a full academic year, but received no further support or information at the end of the last academic year.
“The second the academic year ends, you are basically on your own,” he said.
“There was zero communication or support until the very end of the summer. During the summer, you are essentially reliant on the material and info that was issued to you during the beginning of your process.”
“I understand that people are not working or on holiday over the summer and that professors are busy etc. I also understand that this Erasmus was actively our own choice and the college did stress the degree of responsibility you yourself bear for organising and coordinating your year abroad.”
“But fucking hell, zero responses from the guys who have the definitive say on my study program for my year abroad, when I am in the midst of severe difficulty in coordinating it.”
In a statement to Trinity News, a spokesperson for College said: “We are not in a position to discuss individual student cases from an academic perspective”.
“From time to time, due to a variety of different and often complex circumstances, arrangements need to be made to accommodate students who have been unable to complete sufficient credits while on Erasmus or an international exchange program. These are managed on a case by case basis by the student’s Academic Exchange Coordinator, approved by relevant School/Department and finally, by the Senior Lecturer.”
“While institutional agreements are in place with partner universities to support Erasmus and other global mobility opportunities, Trinity can never guarantee the availability of specific modules to Trinity students going outbound on global mobility programmes, or indeed to visiting students joining Trinity.”