Klaus Vedfelt

Erasmus rebounds: “It’s what they want more than ever”

During the pandemic many were the foreign university students who saw their plans to study at a Flemish university dashed.  Flemish students too faced similar disappointments. Many students encountered travel restrictions.  Moreover, a regular university experience did not seem on offer with distance learning.  Today though the numbers of Erasmus exchange students have rebounded and have gone back to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of Flemish students opting for foreign studies as part of the European Erasmus exchange programme at the universities of Ghent, Leuven and Hasselt has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

At Antwerp University even more students are taking part than before lockdown.  In 2018-19 207 Antwerp University students studied a first semester abroad as part of Erasmus.  The figure rose to 245 the following year only to collapse and halve during 2020-21. Today the figure stands at an impressive 285.

Ann De Schepper, deputy rector for education at Antwerp University, explains the booming figures: “Students are seizing all opportunities to discover as many new things as possible.  After corona this is what they want more than ever.”

Studies in southern Europe, in France, Italy and Spain are popular.  Studies outside Europe are sometimes hampered by continuing travel restrictions.  Robbe Mulier, a student at Hasselt University now studying in Hong Kong, had a dreadful experience: “Our visa didn’t arrive in time for our first planned departure.  Second time round our airline wasn’t permitted to land because of the number of corona infections airlines were bringing into Hong Kong.  Fortunately, it was third time lucky and we managed to get to Hong Kong in August.”

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