ESO is extremely grateful to Ms. Roberta Zahra, Assistant Director Consular Services and Maltese Living Abroad, for providing valuable information contributing to the writing of this article.
1. How can the Foreign Affairs Ministry help students while abroad?
1.1 In case of theft or loss of money and official documentation:
The family of the student who suffered the unfortunate event of being stolen of or loss of belongings may contact the foreign affairs Ministry for guidance. The student will be guided to go to the nearest Embassy or Consulate to recollect a new set of documentation and money if left by the family at the Ministry in Malta (this however has become a rare occurrence with the introduction of cards such as Revolut and money transfer companies such as Western Union.
1.2 Students are encouraged to purchase a private insurance.
A private insurance may seem as an extra cost especially to students, however when abroad an insurance can save one a hefty sum of money especially in events of sickness or physical injuries. An insurance can also be vital if one has his/her belongings stolen (namely, a laptop, phone or other necessary items).
1.3 European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The EHIC benefits students from reduced health care costs or free health care in some States (where free health care is offered). Students are reminded to check the expiry date before going on the trip. The EHIC can be applied for three months prior to expiration. In cases of persons who are applying for the first time, it is important that applicants do so fifteen working days prior to travel. If lost, the EHIC card is to be reapplied for accompanied with a police report and an affidavit.
Apply for the EHIC here
1.4 Intelligent Travel Guide
A guide that seeks to mitigate problems faced by travellers when abroad by listing what to plan before travelling to a country (Medical, Documentation, etc).
The ‘Intelligent Travel Guide can be found here
1.5 Notification Form D – Voluntary registration for Maltese Citizens Travelling and Living Abroad.
The notification ensures that Maltese citizens living abroad will be contacted by the Crisis Unit or the Directorate for Maltese Living Abroad if there are emergencies such as natural disasters, severe storms, terrorist attacks, etc. The Crisis Unit or the Directorate for Maltese Living Abroad will check if the student is in need of any assistance.
You can fill in Notification D here
1.6 Malta Travel Point – Mobile Application
Students are encouraged to download the ‘Malta Travel Point’ application. The application was developed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry for Maltese travellers to have useful information on their mobile phones. The application includes Travel Advice, a Travel Checklist, Malta Representations, Emergency Services, and useful information on what to do in unwanted circumstances (illness, arrest, hostage taking or kidnap, loss of documents, etc).
2. Help given to Erasmus Students by different Universities
2.1 Buddy Systems
In most Universities, a buddy system is greatly promoted. These buddy systems organise activities, mostly social and cultural activities to help visiting students integrate, while making their trip more fruitful and enjoyable. The social activities help students build up long lasting friendships. Overall buddy systems improve the life of visiting students.
Students may be exempted from additional fees namely those regarding tuition, registration, examinations and charges for access to laboratories and libraries. Students are also given grants to help them pay the costs of travelling and accommodation.
2.3 Students with Health Issues
Additional funding may be offered to students, who suffer from physical or mental health problems.
2.4 Erasmus Student Network (ESN)
ESN is the largest student organisation on a European level. ESN is active in the field of student mobility and internationalisation of higher education by providing support services to over 350,000 international students by facilitating their mobility period.
3. Impact of COVID-19 on Erasmus Students
Students had to leave their exchange destination facing huge problems regarding the closure of border leading to a halt in flights and other problems with accommodation. However, most Universities helped their students with regards to continuing the course in the home country.
Students were also offered help with their mental and physical health.
ESN compiled a report putting forward the perspective of students in relation to what is needed during the pandemic:
- Reliable information from governments, Erasmus and other agencies.
- Ensure that accommodation information is available.
- Equal access to online learning.
- Implementation of action on learning activities (interaction with the rest of the student population.
The research was conducted by Mariah Lomax (International Affairs Officer) and Dilan Dimech (Academic Affairs Officer) on behalf of the European Studies Organisation.