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Semester exchange cancelled for the autumn semester 2020

We are heading towards a reopened university but autumn will present some challenges. Over the last few days, an increasing number of UiO's partner universities in Europe and the rest of the world have announced that next semester they will not send out nor receive exchange students from institutions in other countries.

Woman holding campus maps

Photo: Jarli&Jordan/UiO

This is understandable. The situation is very uncertain, and so UiO chooses to look towards spring 2021 as well. Although shorter stays for individual students will still be possible, we see the need to cancel ordinary physical student exchange in the autumn of 2020.

– I am pleased that society and UiO is gradually opening up, and we are working to get back into normal circumstances. Nevertheless, I believe that we cannot put students who have planned for an exchange semester this autumn in a difficult and uncertain situation, said Svein Stølen, Rector at the University of Oslo.

Several cancellations already

Nearly 100 UiO students have had their exchange semester cancelled due to decisions made by partner universities. Some of these universities have postponed the start of semester, while others only offer digital teaching.

This has led several students to withdraw due to a large degree of uncertainty linked to the completion of the autumn semester.

UiO has received inquiries from students who have asked for clarification and advice as soon as possible, as to whether they should proceed with their exchange or not.

Clarification of practical issues

There is a high level of uncertainty regarding travel restrictions and infection control measures in other countries and how this affects teaching and studying.

This spring, more than 200 students had to return home from their exchange semester. UiO had to arrange for them to register for new courses in the middle of the semester.

In the coming weeks, students planning to go on exchange must decide on a number of demanding issues about, amongst other things, housing at home and abroad, visas/entry restrictions, airline tickets, summer jobs, part-time jobs, insurance, and other issues regarding personal finances.  

Health and predictability most important

– UiO is an internationally oriented university. We are part of a community where crossing national, linguistic and cultural borders is highly valued. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we find ourselves having to cancel ordinary physical student exchange at the University of Oslo in autumn 2020. We are committed to providing our students with predictability and the best possible framework for their student exchange period. Unfortunately, with the ongoing corona situation, we cannot guarantee this. We would very much like to plan for both incoming and outgoing students as normal but there is too much uncertainty related to how the infection will develop and how this will affect teaching, everyday study life, and the opportunity to travel. Although this is a very difficult decision to make, we feel that attention must be paid to considerations of life, health and predictability, said Stølen. 

– We have reached this decision after consultations with both student representatives and faculty management.

Must ensure sound learning outcome

– The current uncertainty means that students abroad may risk having to end their exchange semester. This again creates the need for digital solutions and other forms of facilitation in the middle of the semester. In such a situation, it will be difficult to ensure that students end up with an academically sound learning outcome, said Stølen.

– We want to take good care of our students. Thus, we need to ensure that exchange students end up with a sound learning outcome.

Looking towards spring 2021

UiO is now contacting affected students and partner institutions in order to inform them of the decision to cancel.

– Our academic communities will plan for an autumn semester of high academic quality for the students. Our excellent international collaborations will continue even though this semester will be different. We are also looking for opportunities to develop green and virtual forms of cooperating with our partner universities abroad. A full and rewarding exchange period must contain both academic learning outcomes and new cultural experiences from living in another country. We hope to welcome exchange students once again in spring 2021, and for our students to study abroad once more, said Stølen.

Published May 8, 2020 2:59 PM - Last modified May 11, 2020 2:22 PM