Saturday 3/6/21

THL advises to suspend short-term international student exchanges

The health agency says thinks that international student gatherings can pose a risk for the epidemic to escalate.

Finnish health authorities fear that the coming and going of students across the border will become a factor exacerbating the coronavirus epidemic.

For that reason, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) advised on Wednesday that educational institutions should temporarily suspend all short-term student exchanges from abroad to Finland and from Finland to abroad.

According to THL, this recommendation only applies to new student exchanges starting from now on. Short-term student exchange refers to short periods such as intensive courses, language and cultural exchanges, and other exchange periods lasting less than a semester.

“Currently most courses are organised as remote learning, so short student exchanges both in Finland and abroad focus on social interactions that take place outside these lessons. This increases the risk of spreading infections,” says THL Director Mika Salminen.

Infections in Jyväskylä

According to THL, the extensive exposure of students to Covid-19 in Jyväskylä and the subsequently large number of students who were infected with the virus has shown that international student exchanges and the student gatherings that are a natural part of them "can pose a risk for the epidemic to escalate."

"In most countries, there are more coronavirus infections than in Finland. In addition, infections caused by a modified coronavirus variant have been reported in several countries," THL says.

Quarantine accommodation

The health agency also recommends that a student exchange to Finland that is expected to last a full semester or an academic year must take into account the guidelines on coronavirus testing and quarantine measures related to travel.

"Quarantine accommodation should not be a shared room or apartment with other students," THL says. 

The host institution is responsible for ensuring that international students have adequate knowledge of the safety measures and recommendations, including the proper use of face masks.