Cancellation woes for Singapore students on exchange in Italy
The National University of Singapore (NUS) student on an exchange programme to the University of Bologna, Italy, was on a short trip to Finland when he received an e-mail on March 2 from NUS informing him to return home as soon as possible.
Mr Jason Gan, 24, had arrived in Bologna on Feb 6 ahead of the start of lessons on Feb 24.
He is one of the many students of overseas exchange programmes that have been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak there.
The third-year chemical engineering student told The New Paper: "I was expecting it. Since the first week of lessons here were shifted online, I was mentally preparing myself that it would all be cancelled."
This meant that Mr Gan has to request for a $4,000 refund for his accommodation and also fork out money for the flight home on March 7, which he hopes will all be compensated.
Mr Liau Ming Shun, 24, a business student from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), who was on an exchange programme to Bocconi University in Milan, said: "I managed to pack many modules into the first few years of school to help me be done in 3½ years.
"Even if I can't clear the modules this semester, I think I can still clear them in time for graduation. But I am sure the other students will be affected by this."
He said NTU told him that it is in discussion with Bocconi University on the possibility of conducting the rest of the semester online.
He hopes to claim about $3,000 in accommodation, flight ticket and Visa expenses.
TNP understands that there were seven NTU students and 12 NUS students in Bocconi University.
Like the students affected by the cancelled exchange programmes in South Korea, they will have to find a way to clear academic credits used on exchange programmes to try to graduate on time.
Mr Gan is less worried about a delayed graduation as he managed to clear the bulk of his credits in previous semesters.
He said: "Exchange programmes are always a risk because we are not guaranteed the modules we want, so I had planned to clear some credits ahead of time.
"I don't think I will need to graduate late, but my final year will become a bit hectic if I am not allowed to complete my overseas classes online."
As both Bologna and Milan are cities in northern Italy, students will be issued with Stay-Home Notices for 14 days after returning to Singapore.
NUS, NTU and Singapore Management University (SMU) said in separate statements they have suspended all semester exchanges to Italy until further notice and are making other arrangements for students.
It is believed 20 SMU students are on exchange programmes. SMU is discussing the possibility of distance learning as an alternative.