Exchange programmes refer to a process whereby a student visits another university or institute for a defined duration.
With the deadly coronavirus now declared a pandemic, it has unleashed a wave of uncertainty across the globe. The education sector is also not immune to it as various institutes and universities in our country are looking to pull the plug on exchange programmes as well as inviting guest lecturers from abroad for the time being.
Calcutta University (CU) is one such institute which is planning to take this route.
"While the human resources development ministry is yet to give an advisory on what to do, we are looking to see if the programmes can be postponed for the time-being. The idea is not to spread panic but to ensure that safety is maintained at the campus," said a CU official.
The Indian government is currently adopting a wait-and-watch approach when it comes to COVID-19 outbreak. However, individual institutes are taking a decision on exchange programmes.
Exchange programmes refer to a process whereby a student visits another university or institute for a defined duration. This could either be one semester or even upto a year depending on the exchange programme. Students earn credits for being part of these programmes. Here, if institute X goes to French institute for a programme, student Y from their institute to India in turn.
Countries like US, Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and Italy are among the popular destinations for exchange programme. Co-incidentally, all of these countries have a severe outbreak of COVID-19.
Several IIMs have exchange programmes with France. These could be halted till the situation improves.
"We cannot put the student lives at risk. Hence, these would get postponed," said a senior IIM professor.
It is typically during the last semester that ends by April where exchange programmes take place. However, with several cases being detected in India as well, the country has suspended all visas till April 15. When it comes to Indians travelling abroad, India has advised individuals to avoid non-essential travel.
For post-graduate programmes where an Indian institute has an exchange tie-up with an institute abroad, alternate arrangements in India could be made. This is to ensure that students don't lose out on key credits that would add up to their educational degree.
"Rather than looking at how students can be accommodated for exchange in domestic institute, the idea is to restrict all unnecessary travel," said an IIT professor.
Several Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have exchange arrangements with Italy which have been indefinitely postponed.With 73 cases being detected in India, the immediate step has been to sanitise the campuses with foreign students as well as to avoid students from travelling abroad.