Students from VU Amsterdam have started a petition to open up the possibilities to go on an exchange to countries with an orange color code. According to the initiators, there is no good reason to exclude all countries with an orange travel advice.
When choosing to allow an exchange to a country, the VU follows the travel advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But this starting point is unfounded, the initiators of the petition state. For one, the travel advice isn’t always based on the number of Covid-19 cases, but sometimes on entry restrictions. Those restrictions apply to tourist visa, but not always to student visa.
Moreover, some countries that have an orange travel advice are on the list of safe countries for incoming travelers to the Netherlands. And some other Dutch higher education institutions have found alternative ways to let students go on an exchange abroad. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences for instance, lets students go on an exchange to high-risk areas on their own risk. The students also argue that vaccinations should be taken into account, both in the exchange country as for the individual student.
The petition had been signed by over one thousand people in two days.
Kat Baron, member of the University Student Council, asked the Executive Board about the exchange policy in a participation meeting. “We get a lot of questions about studying abroad”, she said. According to her, students are angry that the university is deciding for them.
VU President Mirjam van Praag answered that VU Amsterdam assumes that exchanges will be possible from September. She pointed out that the government’s guidelines would change from May 15. But whether that would offer extra possibilities for students who want to go abroad before September, she couldn’t say.
The University of Amsterdam first cancelled all exchange programs in the first semester of next academic year. But after protests from students, this decision was reconsidered for certain countries.