AFS Flanders says that 7% of those due to come here on an exchange have dropped out, while the Francophone Belgian arm of the organisation has seen 10% cancel. Most of those cancelling are youngster from South America.
Matthias Van Hyfte of AFS told VRT News that “You have the attacks, but also communication about the asylum crisis.”
“People can get the impression that Europe is being flooded with refugees, but is totally not the case.”
“The political and economic situation in South America is also a factor. The situation there isn’t good, especially with the currency devaluation”, Mr Van Hyfte concludes.
The Erasmus Programme that organises exchanges for students in higher education has noted a similar trend. However, it still doesn’t have any firm figures for the next academic year. However, Brussels’ Dutch-medium Free University (VUB) says that 20% Erasmus students are enrolled than at the same time last year.
The university believes that the 22 March terrorist attacks have had an impact.
The VUB’s Nikki Van Tendeloo told VRT News that "We can’t say with 100% certainty, but we have very strong suspicions that this is the case. We have also noticed with our own students that there were fewer requests to go to Istanbul. Some of the students that had been selected ask to change destination at the last minute.”