Since the start of the pandemic, students have suffered from the consequences of the lockdown and restrictions.
The issue of closed borders was just one of the problems the Association of Luxembourg Student Unions Acel had to deal with. Acel stood up for students and tried to negotiate the best possible conditions for them.
The association has received a number of complaints from Luxembourgish students since the start of the pandemic. Many of them have been severely impacted by restrictions imposed by the countries in which they were studying.
The president of Acel, Sven Bettendorf, stated: "We noticed a clear lack of information as well as a lot of uncertainty. Many were afraid and asked themselves how they could continue their studies, or if they could return to Luxembourg. This was obviously a big issue and we tried to inform as many students as possible and help them make decisions like if they should stay in Luxembourg or at their place abroad".
Border closures have massively impacted students' mobility. Those studying in Germany have been affected the most. Thanks to cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, information pertaining to the closures was provided to these students as quickly as possible. However, a letter from Acel to the German Ministry of the Interior remains unanswered to this day.
Another problem: Covid-19 has forced many students to extend their studies by a semester. The association reached an agreement with the Ministry of Higher Education, which granted affected students short-term financial help as well as an additional grant for those who have had to extend their studies.
"Grants have been extended allowing for longer studies due to students being forced to prolong their studies because of the corona crisis. There were a lot of problems there, e.g. students not being able to write their exams, or collect their ECTS. This forced many of them to extend their studies at their respective universities which in turn required action here in Luxembourg to give them the opportunity to stay longer".
Another subject on Acel's agenda was fixed-term contracts. A number of students were not allowed to go to work during the crisis and were refused payment by their employers. Acel advised students to insist on their rights, as the law is on their side. Both parties to a fixed-term contract have to respect their agreement.
The association stated that it wants a joint European solution to the problem. As Acel's vice-president, Benjamin Kinn, explained: "A uniform solution, first of all in Germany in order to avoid every federal state doing as it pleases. Even inside Germany regulations differed from state to state and this is why we would prefer to see a European solution. I mean France had a completely different set of rules during the corona crisis, you had to print out and fill in a document in order to leave your flat".
Students were reminded to contact Acel if they have any questions or problems.