Foreign students find opportunities limited in Covid era

One of the University of Limerick’s partner universities, Henan Polytechnic University (HPU) in China, normally sends dozens of students to the Plassey campus every year.

However, according to HPU international office manager, Yang Chen, the number of students sent this year dropped from 32 to 11.

With fewer flights owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, many international students were forced to pay high-priced flights to travel to Ireland.

UL business analysis and international student, Ziqing said that she and her friend each spent more than €1,400 on flights from China to Ireland in September of last year.

Ziqing said: “I feel that I just paid a high price to change from one room to another to study. The online course did not improve my English very much, and I did not completely enter the pure Irish environment.”

“Due to online teaching, I have never entered the classrooms once, and many of my classmates have never met each other. I have lost too many opportunities for social activities, which makes me lonely,” they added.

Shenting Wang, an International student studying business in UL, has been in Ireland since early January 2021, when the outbreak was at its peak.

Ms. Wang who lives with an Irish-Chinese family said: “I arrived at Dublin Airport on January 9th. At the time, I was wearing a very stuffy protective suit and was sent to Limerick with a dozen international students”

“I want to live on campus, but I am afraid of cluster infections, so I chose to stay for isolation. Unfortunately, I haven’t made an Irish friend for so long. My luggage is filled with masks and disinfectants instead of clothes.”

According to UL International Education Division Sinead Loughran, if the students living arrangements do not allow for self-isolation, suitable accommodation will be arranged by UL for them to self-isolate in.

“Where appropriate, UL’s on-campus healthcare professionals will provide support to students also. UL will remain in close contact by phone with students on a daily basis throughout this period.” Mrs. Loughran said.

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