Number of foreign Erasmus+ students in Czech Republic at 75 percent of normal rate last semester

Foto: Evropská komise

The EU’s Erasmus+ is a popular study abroad programme which gives hundreds of thousands of students every year the opportunity to study, or gain work experience in another EU member state. The programme is also very popular among Czech students, with more than 21,000 taking part in Erasmus+ during 2019. However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many of them have had to switch to an online study format, despite still being able to travel abroad, says Radka Vavroušková from the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research, the organisation that administers Erasmus+ in Czechia.

“We know that about one third of [Czech] students studied via online format during the winter semester and it can be estimated that the situation will likely be similar during the summer semester as well. However, we do not have data for that period yet.”

Last year saw many Czech students interrupt their Erasmus+ programmes and return home. Is this still happening?

“That was the situation during the spring, when the pandemic just arrived and no one was expecting it. Now, if students decide to go abroad, they do tend to end up spending the whole semester there, because they are aware of the possible coronavirus restrictions in place, so it is no longer a reason to leave for them.”

Photo: The Open University,  Flickr,  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What about foreign students in the Czech Republic? Have their numbers also declined?

“The situation is similar to that of Czech students abroad. We know that during the last, winter, semester the number of [foreign students] in Czech Republic was about 75 percent of the normal rate, so that number is also lower.”

As the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research you are not only involved in the Erasmus+ programme, but also in coordinating several grants and partnership projects. How has the pandemic affected your work in these areas?

“When it comes to ongoing projects, it is sometimes necessary to adjust the ongoing activities so that they can be implemented even under current conditions. We are in touch with other project coordinators regularly. However, the number of projects is quite stable. In fact, last year we saw an increase in the interest in strategic projects. Luckily, the interest in these projects has not been influenced much by the pandemic.”