Hundreds of students will have to cancel their foreign exchanges this autumn

Due to the coronavirus crisis, AU will be welcoming significantly fewer international students next semester – and 500 AU students have already had their exchanges cancelled, voluntarily and otherwise. It’s a rough year for internationalization, says Rikke Nielsen, head of AU’s International Office.

[Translate to English:] Sidste år summede Universitetsparken af internationale studerende i forbindelse med den internationale studiestart. Billedet bliver et helt andet i år på grund af corona. Arkivfoto: Søren Kjeldgaard

The coronavirus crisis has made life difficult for a lot of exchange students during the spring semester: two-thirds of the approximately 480 AU students who went on exchange this spring elected to cut their exchanges short and come home. And the remaining third who chose to remain abroad and complete their exchanges had a very different experience than they had dreamed of.  

Most of the international exchange students who came to AU in the spring semester decided to go home early. Especially after AU introduced online teaching and exams. These stats come from Rikke Nielsen, head of the International Office at AU.

READ MORE: Three students look back on a semester abroad that didn’t exactly go as planned

340 international students will do an exchange at AU in the autumn

But the coronavirus crisis will have even more serious consequences for exchanges in the fall, Nielsen told me. 

“We usually welcome 700-750 exchange students in the autumn semester. This year, the figure is down to about 340 students who’ve been offered at place at AU starting in mid-August. And it’ll probably fall even more, for example as a result of any restrictions in their home countries or from the Danish side,” she told me.

Denmark is open to exchange students, because coming here to study is considered a valid reason for travel.

Exchanges cancelled for 500 AU students - voluntarily and otherwise

But the coronavirus crisis is also thwarting the plans of hundreds of AU students who had been planning on doing an exchange in the autumn. According to Nielsen, 624 AU students were on track to study abroad this autumn. But so far 500 AU students have either chosen to cancel their exchanges themselves or had them cancelled, because their host universities will not be admitting international students next semester. 

“A lot of our partner universities around the world have decided to cancel all exchanges in 2020. So overall, at the moment there are only 124 AU students who’ll be studying abroad next semester. This is a really rough year for internationalization. And it’s rough for the students who have to give up the international dimension of their degree programme. For some of them, this is their only chance to travel abroad during their programme. It’s really sad,” Nielsen concluded.

Translated by Lenore Messick