Prague, July 22 (CTK) – Interest in study abroad within the Erasmus European program has not declined significantly despite the coronavirus pandemic, with only one-tenth of Czech university students deciding to cancel their plans, International Cooperation House (DZS) told journalists Wednesday.
Three-quarters of students are considering postponing their studies abroad, said representatives of DZS, which coordinates the Erasmus program in the Czech Republic.
University mobility and projects department head Roman Klepetko said more than 75 percent of students still plan to study abroad for at least one semester and that most universities are ready to switch to online lectures if the epidemiological situation worsens.
Klepetko said all Czech universities are ready to accept foreign students as well as organizing lectures online, adding that 63 percent out of the 1,133 European universities that take part in the Erasmus program are now accepting students.
Roughly 10 percent of European universities do not plan to accept students, mostly in Northern Europe and in Spain.
DZS spokeswoman Lucie Durcova said no country’s universities reject Erasmus students completely.
Scholarships will be provided to students only for the time they spend abroad and they will not receive any money if they stay in the Czech Republic and study online, Klepetko said.
According to the DZS, roughly 8,000 university students and 2,000 university employees took part in programs abroad each year. Since 1998, 315,000 Czechs have participated in the Erasmus program.
In February, before the start of the pandemic, there were 4,800 students on Erasmus residencies abroad. Two-thirds of them returned to Czechia and one-third stayed abroad, Durcova said, adding that two-thirds continued studies online.
All of them were allowed to keep their scholarships.
The budget of the Czech Erasmus+ program is 66.6 million crowns, most of it, 31.6 million, invested in university education.
This week, the European Council approved an increase in the program’s budget for the next seven years from the current 14.7 billion euros to 21.2 billion from January 2021 till the end of 2027.
DZS representatives said this increase will allow the program to broaden the scope of its activities.