There will be no student exchange during the autumn semester, neither for outgoing students nor incoming students. The plan is still to accept international applicants who want to take a full bachelor's or master's degree at UiA, but there is a lot of uncertainty associated with these applicants.
“The decision to cancel was made because of the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, both in Norway and the rest of the world. The uncertainty is so great that we do not find it justifiable neither to send nor to host exchange students”, says Rector Sunniva Whittaker.
The government travel advice is valid until 20 August and may be extended. The travel advice advises against all international travel unless it is absolutely essential.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains its current travel advice that discourages non-essential travel to all countries. This travel advice will remain in effect until 20 August. In this situation, the MFA’s travel advice is closely linked to quarantine regulations and entry restrictions," states the press release 15 May from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
This makes the situation so unclear that UiA cannot guarantee that students will be able to travel. The situation is also unclear in most other countries, so students risk not being offered acceptable study conditions, and in the worst case they might not get their stay at a foreign institution approved - if they are even allowed to enter the country they wish to go to.
There is also uncertainty about the possibility of returning home in the event of a second wave of coronavirus while staying abroad.
The situation is not yet clear in the Nordic countries either and it will not be resolved until 15 June, which is too late for the students who were promised clarification by 1 June.
“The International Education Office will inform the students who should have been on exchange this autumn about the decision. Of course, they will all be offered a place at UiA in the autumn semester”, says Director of Academic Affairs Greta Hilding.
The autumn semester at UiA starts on 10 August. There are strict regulations for entering Norway, and there are no signs that restrictions will be significantly eased.
For students coming from countries outside of Europe, there will not be much time to prepare should entry regulations become less stringent.
The government may ease the entry regulations for some countries in the EEA, but it will not be clear until 20 July - and that is far too late for foreign exchange students.
Students from the Nordic countries might be given the opportunity to enter the country, however, much of the point of international exchange falls away if they are the only exchange students.
These are international students who study at UiA for several years, until they have completed a bachelor's or master's degree.
They are in a different category than foreign exchange students who stay at UiA for one or two semesters.
When the deadline for accepting the offer of admission from UiA expired on 18 May, 53 had accepted offers for bachelor's degree programmes and 78 for master's degree programmes.
It is not clear how many of these will get the opportunity to start their studies in Norway this autumn. For these as well, it is mainly a question of entry restrictions.