Part Three: 4EU+ universities in solidarity with their local communities

This article will be updated regularly as the situation evolves and new measures and initiatives are brought in by our universities. If you have stories to share, please contact us at or reach out to us on social media (Twitter: @4EUplusAlliance, Facebook: @4EUplusAlliance).

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As the coronavirus pandemic spreads and the number of patients surge, students from the medical faculties at 4EU+ institutions have volunteered their services to support the battle against COVID-19. Other faculties’ staff and students at 4EU+ universities are also joining the fight through different solidarity actions.

Medical students joining the front line

Nearly 90 University of Milan’s intern physicians responded to the call to work in a new Operative Centre dedicated to patients released from hospitals and still recovering from COVID-19. The young physicians keep in contact with the released patients in order to monitor their temperature and oxygen levels. The project, designed by the UMIL Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and supported by the Lombardy Region and the Milan Territorial Health Agency, was launched on 23 March. The new structure, set up in a building of the Buzzi Hospital, is open 24/7 and has 7 working desks.

Many students at Charles University’s medical faculties volunteered to battle the pandemic even before the Czech government passed a key resolution obligating medical students in their final year of study to go into practice to alleviate the increasingly difficult situation in hospitals. The student initiative at the First Faculty of Medicine in Prague was led by a sixth-year student David Kulišiak, who had launched a Facebook campaign to bring together volunteers in early March. By 19 March, David’s call for volunteers resulted in offers from 450 Czech students and 150 foreign students studying medicine in English. Read an interview with David Kulišiak. In an interview published on 2 March, Rector of Charles University Professor Tomáš Zima stated that there are more than 1,100 CU volunteers already working in hospitals, with 2,900 registered students willing to help.

On 28 March 2020, under the heading “Thousands of medical students help out” the ZDF, one of the two most important German TV broadcasters, reported on the involvement of Heidelberg University students in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. The volunteering students from the Medical Faculties in Heidelberg and Mannheim are, amongst other things, accompanying trained personnel in the so-called Corona taxi, which provides care for infected persons who are home quarantined. The Heidelberg University medical students are also involved in the work of a new COVID-19 test centre in Heidelberg. Read more…

Around 2,500 medical students from the University of Copenhagen have also declared their readiness to join the medical services in the Copenhagen Capital and Zeeland Regions. The majority have been trained as locum nurses or medical auxiliaries and can be of great assistance to the hospitals’ intensive care units.

Universities providing and collecting equipment for doctors and nurses fighting coronavirus

Although the University of Warsaw does not have a faculty of medicine, UW Faculty of Physics helps doctors, nurses and other medical staff fight the pandemic safely by producing visors, that are special shields protecting faces of medical professionals, with the use of 3D printers. The production, with a capacity of over 100 visors per day, is supervised by Prof. Andrzej Wysmołek, Dr Radosław Łapkiewicz and Piotr Kaźmierczak. The visors are handed over to the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate and other medical institutions free of charge. The Faculty of Physics team has invited other researchers and institutions to join the project.

To respond to the growing need of protective equipment that is crucial in the treatment of patients with coronavirus, on 27 March, the University of Copenhagen decided to give away 5,000 face masks and packages of protective suits for the hospitals in the Copenhagen Capital Region.

Students helping children

At Charles University, students from the Faculty of Education wanted to offer support to healthcare professionals by offering to take care of their children while they are at work. Through a website, volunteers can submit their offers of child care services. Another project, Volunteering Neighbours Initiative, aims to support healthcare and social services institutions.

A group of University of Warsaw’s students, together with students of Gdańsk University of Technology, have launched an initiative called #studenciuczniom (‘students to pupils’) to help children cope with remote studying. Requests for tutorials are gathered via a Facebook group (in Polish) and assigned to volunteering students. By 26 March, more than 300 students signed up as tutors, with the number growing every day.

Sharing self-care tips for self-isolation

Having in mind all the members of the UW community who would like to meet new, likely-minded people without leaving their home, the Volunteer Centre of the University of Warsaw together with the University of Warsaw’s Welcome Point have launched “Multicultural Meetings Online”. The initiative is for all the UW students who were forced to interrupt their stays abroad and come back home, international students at UW who have to stay in Warsaw and all the other members of UW community who simply miss the international atmosphere and the opportunity to speak other languages that their own. Anyone interested in joining the Multicultural Meetings Online is invited to fill out a simple online subscription form. Subscribers then receive access to an online table in which they can mark their availability and match with other students. “It was a nice idea for spending these days at home,” said Giada, student at UW Faculty of Applied Linguistics. For me, as a language lover, it is a great opportunity.”

The initiative is open to students from other universities and the Facebook page of Multicultural Meetings Online, as of 6 April, has more than 230 members, among them international students from other higher education institutions.

At the University of Milan, students in sports sciences launched the campaign #STATalEACASA ma in forma! (Stay home but in shape). Via Youtube, Facebook and Instagram channels of CUS (University Sport Centre), they have been sharing short tutorials showing how to exercise while at home. The project, initiated by Prof. Antonio La Torre, Delegate of the Rector for Sports, continues. Do a workout with UMIL students!