Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Education and Skills
264. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request and urge UCD to revoke the cancellation of all outgoing Erasmus arrangements for 2020 in circumstances in which the receiving institutions are willing to accept students from Ireland and in view of UCD preparing to accept international students onto campus-based courses from September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11199/20]
2020-21 is going to be the most challenging year for all in education, at national and EU level. All of our Higher Education Institutions are endeavouring to work towards a new normal for all delivery across all areas of education and training, including the Erasmus + programme.
My Department is the National Authority for the EU Erasmus+ programme in Ireland and has an oversight role in the delivery and strategic direction of the Erasmus+ programme. The Higher Education Authority is the National Agency for Erasmus+ for the higher education sector in Ireland and it engages on an ongoing basis with our Higher Education Institutions on implementation and planning of the Erasmus+ programme.
Our Higher Education Institutions are independent bodies and they are responsible for delivery of their own activities and programmes and for decision-making on particular aspects of delivery.
In the context of COVID-19, all HEIs must, and are, adapting to the situation in light of public health guidance and advice. I am advised by the HEA that UCD has decided that reciprocal exchanges under Erasmus are not viable for the Autumn Trimester 2020 taking into consideration public health advice in a number of countries and current travel restrictions. This does not affect mobilities for the Spring Trimester 2021, which UCD hopes will proceed as planned.
In support of, and to facilitate greater flexibility in, Erasmus mobilities, the HEA has offered to extend the eligibility period for mobilities from 16 months to 24 months to facilitate students and institutions.
The European Commission is also suggesting that virtual mobilities be utilised where a physical experience is not possible. This is another option that is available alongside the traditional mobility offering. I hope that the flexibilities and options available will ensure that all students who wish to have a mobility experience in the next academic year can be facilitated to the greatest extent possible.