30 September 2020

The corona pandemic caused many who had planned to travel
abroad this spring to change their plans. The number of international students is approximately half of what it was last year.

Boys and girls talking outdoors
A welcome activityfor international students at LiU at the start of the autumn term.  Charlotte Perhammar

There are two groups of international students: exchange students who take part of their programme abroad, and students who take a complete programme in English. Of the first group, exchange students, 269 came to LiU at the start of the autumn term. This is less than half of the number who came last year: 587. Of the second group, students who have come to Sweden to take a complete programme at LiU in English, approximately 340 arrived. Approximately 150 of them are fee-paying students, from countries that are not members of the EU or the European Economic Area. The corresponding figure last year was approximately 280, nearly twice as many.

“It has been particularly difficult for fee-paying students to come, due to problems in obtaining a residence permit in time, or travel restrictions. Many of the students who wanted to come were not able to”, says Therese Lindkvist, international coordinator at LiU’s International Office.

The reduction has a number of consequences, one of which is a reduction in the cultural exchange on the LiU campuses and in teaching situations. It has consequences also, of course, for the individuals affected: they must postpone their plans, or in the worst case cancel them. Another consequence that the International Office is starting to see is that many of the exchange students who wanted to arrive for the start of the autumn term now want to come to LiU in the spring.

“So it’s possible that we will see an increase of the number of exchange students in the spring of 2021, compared with previous years. This will depend, of course, on how the spread of infection develops. This is currently increasing around the world, which may make it impossible for students to come to LiU”, says Therese Lindkvist.

How has the reception of students from abroad worked out, given the conditions imposed by the corona pandemic?

“As usual, the International Office has had a reception desk throughout August at the entrance to Studenthuset, where we have had hand disinfectant, floor labels and plexiglas. The flow of people has worked surprisingly well, and we have not had any worries when considering precautions due to the coronavirus. It’s been particularly nice to be able to welcome the people who have managed to come in spite of all the obstacles, and we have tried to make sure that the students understand this: That they are special folk whose presence was dearly sought after.”

Translated by George Farrants

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