Universities in EHEA Faced Restrictions to In-Person Instruction in Fall 2021, EUA’s Survey Finds

Most universities in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) faced at least partial restrictions to in-person education during the fall term 2021, according to a snapshot survey by the European University Association (EUA) involving national rectors’ conferences from 26 higher education systems.

Survey findings have shown that only four higher education systems have not reported any restrictions to on-campus teaching, Erudera.com reports.

The aim of the survey is to create an overview of the continued impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on higher education institutions at the start of the academic year 2021/22.

According to data, face coverings and social distancing, including restricting room capacities remain very common, although the situation is different depending on the country.

In Ireland, some institutions are still operating close to full capacity, whereas some others continue to provide lessons with limitations on class size. On the other hand, in Romania, some institutions continue to provide education fully online, and others operate with the hybrid model.  

While education remains fully online in Finland and others use blended learning, eight systems have returned to in-person education at the start of the autumn/winter semester of 2021/22 in the following countries:

  • Belgium (French)
  • Czechia
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia

The higher education sector in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Slovakia highlighted are requiring their students and staff to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 as a condition due to public rules.

“In 16 systems, some or all of the universities continue to offer Covid19 testing to students and staff. In two systems (EE, NO), testing has been discontinued,” the publication reads.

In Latvia, 86 percent of the student population, and 90% of staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19, a higher rate than the general population.

17 systems participating in the survey have imposed special COVID-19 restrictions for incoming international students. Only four said that they have not in effect any specific rules for the higher education sector.

In Italy, international students vaccinated with vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) but not by the EU have been mentioned as an obstacle.

Data have shown that seven systems have seen a decrease in the number of international degree-seeking students.   

17 of the 48 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) have vaccinated 70 percent or more of their population.

EUA brings together over 800 members of the higher education systems of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), including the national university associations from 33 higher education systems.

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