By Sophie Johnson

Universities across Australia have cancelled international student exchanges due to COVID-19, and students who planned on studying abroad have been told to study in the safety of their home for the rest of the year.

Semester one exchange students were requested to return home in March, while Semester two approvals were completely cancelled.

Natasha Heffer, a UQ student who travelled to the University of Glasgow at the start of this year, said: “we were recommended that we should consider going home because the borders were going to close. It didn’t affect my study too bad actually because my semester started in January so by the time I came home I only had one week of learning left, so I completed that at home, on zoom.”

Students planning to study abroad in Semester two were not as fortunate.

UQ student Jimmy Botella was accepted into The University of British Columbia for Semester two this year.

“I really wanted to go to Canada so quite disappointed I couldn’t get to go there,” he said.

The process to be accepted into a student exchange is long.

“I had to first see if I was eligible, and then I had to create my own study plan, and then I had to get permission from my course co-ordinator,” Mr Botella said.

However, students have been offered an alternative.

“I did get an email for a virtual exchange if I wanted to go… you just do all the online lectures and tutorials and contact courses online and over zoom I guess, just in your own room not overseas,” Botella said.

The University of Queensland has yet to make any further announcements regarding plans for exchanges in the future.

They say the health and welfare of all students remains their top priority.