Student exchange in autumn cancelled

- The health, safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority.

On Wednesday May 20, Nord University decided to cancel all student exchange for the autumn semester.  This means that no students from Nord will undertake exchange abroad, and that Nord will not receive students from partner institutions.

The basis for the decision is the ongoing situation related to Coronavirus, Covid-19.

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Students' health and wellbeing the top priority, says Prorector of Education Levi Gårseth-Nesbakk.

Structure makes for good experiences

- For many, study abroad is the highlight of the educational journey. However, predictability and structure are decisive in ensuring that students get the most out of what exchange has to offer, and that they enjoy the experience, says Gårseth-Nesbakk.

- Students who travel from Nord, and those students who come to us on exchange, are our responsibility. When we see that the current situation makes it difficult provide the necessary structure, we have no option but to act.

Gårseth-Nesbakk notes that admission of international degree-seeking students is not affected by the decision, and is underway.

- International degree-seeking students have a longer perspective, from two to three years. Educational institutions have more time to facilitate learning for these students, such as by offering online study for a period of time, and have a better chance of adapting teaching and learning as the situation evolves.

The decision to cancel student exchange for autumn 2020 is in accordance with recommendations from Universities Norway, and reflects decisions passed by many other institutions in the higher education sector.

Health and wellbeing foremost priority

The decision emphasizes considerations related to students' health, wellbeing and safety, including:

  • Infection control, and that international travel heightens exposure to illness
  • Uncertainty related to infection control and health services in receiving countries, for outgoing students.
  • Access to housing, both in Norway and abroad, and financial risk related to rental agreements.
  • Unclear situation at host institutions, including cancellation of courses and changes in modes of delivery, delayed commencement dates, lack of facilitation, and communication issues.

When the situation at a receiving institution is unclear, it is difficult to ascertain the standard of education that will be on offer to Nord students.

- An important principle of student exchange is that it improves the quality of education. We see that the current situation means that outgoing students risk meeting a standard of education that is lower than it would be normally, says Gårseth-Nesbakk.

No time for delay, risk financial consequences

There is also a range of practical challenges and significant financial risk related to international travel at this time. The decision highlights:

  • Recommendations from national authorities and national restrictions on travel. In Norway, the current recommendations are valid until August 20, in the first instance, meaning restrictions apply until after the commencement date for most students.
  • Ongoing possibility of restrictions being tightened and borders closed, in Norway and abroad.
  • Significant costs related to travel and transport.
  • Challenges related to consular and diplomatic communications.

Students on exchange have a tight schedule, the decision states. From recruitment and application, to reception and commencement, there is no room for delay. It is a difficult situation to adapt to constant change.

- Students pay in advance in order to move across borders, they terminate rental agreements and part-time jobs, and they spend a significant amount of time on planning in the examination period. Most of their expenses are personal and may not be covered by study loans, says Monica Brobak, Head of the International Office.

Have you applied for exchange this autumn?

Outgoing students can obtain further information from their faculty.

The International Office can also answer your questions: