The European Commission has set out to triple the number of participants in the next European programme for education, training, youth and sport, widely known as Erasmus+.
The new goal has prompted a renewed debate on student mobility in Europe. In Norway, the Ministry of Education and Research is currently writing a white paper on the topic.
Exploring challenges together
̶ Increased student mobility is on the agenda both in the EU and in Norway, and it is useful to explore the challenges together, said Ragnhild Skålid, the counsellor for education at the Mission of Norway to the EU.
25 June 2019, the Mission of Norway co-hosted the seminar Student Mobility: Drivers and Barriers, in partnership with the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU, Neth-ER and NorCore. Irina Ferencz from the Academic Cooperation Association moderated the seminar.
Speakers from the European Commission, the European Student Union, Norway and the Netherlands explored what measures can be taken in order to reach the EU’s ambitious goal.
The attendees ranged from counsellors for education, representatives for national agencies, higher education institutions and stakeholder organisations.
Among the speakers were Lene Krogh Baldersheim, who works with European mobility in Erasmus+ as an adviser at Diku. She pointed out the important role of study programme coordinators at the higher education institutions in encouraging students to study abroad.
Cultural change in higher education
Mads Gravås is the project manager for the forthcoming white paper on international student mobility.
Mads Gravås and Lene Krogh Baldersheim were among the speakers. Both were happy to answer questions from the audience about student mobility and the Norwegian experience. Photo: Stine Lise Wannebo
̶ Norway’s Minister for Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, has an ambition to make student exchange an integrated part of higher education that the student actively has to turn down, said Gravås, who works at the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.
Gravås was very pleased with the amount of support received from the Dutch panelists at the seminar.
̶ It’s inspiring to see that we to a large extent agree on this cultural change that needs to happen in higher education, he said.
In Norway, the goal is to make exchange the first choice for students. This would mean that in the future, half of all students would spend parts of their studies abroad.
Cultural understanding and awareness
̶ Student mobility is the origin and still at the core of the Erasmus+ programme, counsellor Ragnhild Skålid said.
̶ A study abroad experience equips the student with skills relevant for the labour market. It also contributes to raise cultural understanding and awareness of common European values, and is important to the participants’ personal development, she concluded.
Many attendees were eager to ask questions during the panel discussion. Photo: Stine Lise Wannebo
NorCore is the Norwegian Contact Office for Research, Innovation and Education. The office consists of three partners, namely The Research Council of Norway (RCN), Innovation Norway (IN) and The Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku).
Neth-ER is Netherlands house for Education and Research, the representation of the Dutch knowledge community in Brussels.