Recently, researchers Jessica D. Schüller and Flávia Soares De Oliveira Colus published a very interested study under the title of ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Erasmus Mundus Programs: Student and Practitioner Voices. Like RIPEC, students and program managers shared their
experiences and stories to provide for the dataset that grounds the research. This is why we report the main findings below.
Initial Responses and Housing Issues
● Well over half of current students (n=172, 62%) indicated that the program communicated
the decision to stay in the host country or go to the home country could be determined by
the students themselves.
● 71% of incoming students reported that their programs were moving forward as planned.
● Most students (n=545, 83%) showed that their current living situation was affordable, and
over half reported not having any issues with their housing.
Early Adjustments and Decision-Making
● As of summer 2020, 40% of programs had decided on a hybrid model of instruction for the
Fall 2020 semester. However, over a third had not yet decided, or had not yet informed
students of their decision.
● Regarding student satisfaction with decision-making, 34% of students were neutral, yet
20% were unsatisfied.
Communication and Information
● Communication issues were one of the most frequently cited concerns of students; they
reported wanting more frequent, clearer and faster communication form their programs.
Interestingly, current students were notably less satisfied with program communication
(n=198) that incoming students (n=290). At the same time, all ten program managers
reported increasing communication efforts with students.
Impact on Degree Requirements and Completion
● Over 100 students commented on how their degree components (mobilities, internships,
research practicums, etc.) were impacted or changed entirely because of the situation, and
how this fundamentally changed their program experience. Despite this discouraging
situation and increased demands that came with the online learning environment, 95% of
students said that they were still planning to complete their Erasmus Mundus program amid
the circumstances brought on by COVID-19.
Travel and Visa Challenges:
● The mobility restrictions caused by the pandemic were one of the most important
challenges faced by both program managers (n=12) and students (n=68). Incoming students
were facing difficulties getting to the program countries in due time, and current students
often could not move to the planned countries or to go back home.
● Students frequently reported wishing their programs would provide better and more
support on visa applications and mobility during the pandemic.
● 95 student respondents reported mental health concerns such as anxiety, stress, loneliness
● Students expressed that programs could have eased the pandemic burden on their mental
health by demonstrating empathy with the student situation and by connecting students
with mental health services when necessary.
● Similarly, 4 program managers reported the challenges of working from home, both from
a pragmatic perspective of difficult communication with colleagues, and from the mental
health perspective of dealing with family and an increased amount of work that came from
the need for change and adaptation due to COVID.
Development of Support Initiatives
● Only half of the current students (n=134) mentioned additional support measures were put
in place by their programs during the pandemic.
● The most frequently mentioned initiatives were: creating moments of interaction, group
chats, and other activities with the students (n=69); openness to informal communication
(n=33); and mental health support (n=18)
Overall Student Satisfaction with Program Responses
● Most students reported being satisfied with the overall response from their programs (44%)
but incoming students were notably more satisfied.
● While both current and incoming students reported feeling anxious about the impact of
COVID-19 on their program, the majority felt that their program would deal with the
changes in the best way possible (n=342, 52%).
If you want to explore more about this interesting research, please visit: https://wacoma.unibo.it/_docs/210305_Schueller_Colus_EM-COVID_2021.pdf
Very well written ….
Unfortunately, this is true.
The pandemic has hit us all.
Someone once said that real courage is the moment when we enter our own home.
For globetrotters, people who want to see and feel more, who enjoy the world – lockdown was a real tragedy.
And that’s what our students are like.
My students who came back to Poland from studies or internships often told me about post Erasmus depression.
In Poland, the level of depression among children and adolescents has increased significantly. Many psychologists are concerned about what their lives will be like after the pandemic.
Before parents and teachers, authorities for the youngest, now a period of very hard work.
Greetings from Poland!
It is very good that despite such a huge crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, mobility programs are being implemented to a greater or lesser extent. This allows you to maintain what is most important – interpersonal, intercultural and inter-university communication. You should trust that this crisis will end quickly, but at the same time it will allow you to draw conclusions from the research carried out at that time and answer the question – how to deal with a similar problem. Cordial greetings from Polish 🙂
I found the study very interesting.
Indeed, one of the worst consequences of this pandemic is the repercussion it has had on people’s mental health. In addition, mental health problems are often slow to show up.
It is essential to care about mental health. College students had to make life choices overnight during the pandemic. This may have lead to overwhelming stress levels, and other diseases (e.g. depression or anxiety) might come along with these situations. Therefore, caring about their overall health is more important than it seems. Reminding them to relax from time to time would be a nice thing for teachers to do, too. After all, no one can give their best when their mental health isn’t good enough. Caring about themselves sometimes is the very first step for a successful academic life.