Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Erasmus+

As universities across Europe move to online teaching at record speed, a number of activities are being put in place at Guild member universities to support students and staff members navigate this extraordinary situation.

Universities are setting up departmental support networks to offer advice on digital platforms and provide trainings to support learning and teaching online. They are also issuing guidance for students and staff through support packages, and developing new examination formats at times when physical meetings are not possible. Lecturers have also done a lot of support work for their students’ wellbeing in these uncertain times.

The current situation has particularly impacted many international students who are separated from family and friends and unable to travel home because of different measures put in place in their host country, whilst others are concerned about the impact of the interrupted studies on their scholarship and recognition outcomes.

The Guild welcomes the swift response of the Commission to offer maximum flexibility in the implementation of the Erasmus+ programme. This is indeed an extraordinary situation which requires our collective support to all mobile students and staff members. For that reason, members of The Guild's Erasmus Working Group, who as International Office staff provide daily support to international students, invite the Commission to implement additional measures:

  • Applying force majeure procedure is appropriate for specific individual cases or circumstances of regional character, but the current crisis calls for other arrangements to ensure fair and equal treatment of all mobile participants. To avoid additional administrative burden, we suggest a special simplified procedure to be adopted at EU level: all Erasmus+ participants whose mobility period has been affected should be able to keep their full Erasmus+ grant, regardless if they continue their activities online. They should also be reimbursed for any extraordinary costs related to the disruption of their mobility period.

  • Distance learning should account to the achievements of the learning outcomes.

  • Students and staff members who received a special needs grant should keep the entire grant and be reimbursed if they had extraordinary costs exceeding the grant due to disruption of their mobilities.

  • Participants who have been selected for Erasmus+ mobility and started to plan their mobility, should be reimbursed for any cost they might have had in relation to their planned mobilities such as travel costs, insurance or accommodation costs.

  • A number of Erasmus Mundus students are concerned about continuing their studies, especially because some consortia members are offering online courses, while others are yet to introduce new measures depending on the changing situation in their country. For students who have the possibility to follow online classes and are allowed to travel home, payment of scholarship subsistence costs even when spending time in country of residence should be allowed under these special circumstances.

  • All projects where workplans have been deeply affected by the current emergency should be extended: many of these include Learning and Teaching events which need to be organised in line with the academic calendar, so we encourage extensions to apply also for projects already lasting 36 months. We support adopting a light amendment procedure for beneficiaries wishing to extend their project and progress and interim report deadlines to be adapted accordingly.

  • The Guild welcomes the extension of application deadlines for Strategic Partnerships (23 April) and Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (26 May). Given that the daily routines of many university staff members have been affected due to total or partial closing of their institution, we encourage the Commission to further monitor the situation in case the deadlines need to be reviewed again in the following weeks.

  • The current crisis will greatly affect the number of mobilities across Europe. We invite the Commission to consider granting the full amount of Organisational support (OS) to universities regardless of the actual mobility numbers realised at the end of the project to recognise the additional workload placed on universities in supporting students and moving their teaching activities online.

 

 

 

Published Mar. 23, 2020 3:20 PM - Last modified Mar. 23, 2020 3:20 PM