EAIE Geneva: the EUF’s digest

During the second week of September, the European University Foundation (EUF) participated in EAIE Geneva, one of the largest international higher education conferences that gathers over 5,200 professionals from across Europe. Looking back at their week in Geneva, Joachim Wyssling, Valère Meus, Stefan Jahnke and Marie Montaldo report all relevant information from the 2018 edition here.

Elephant in the room: To revive or end exchange agreements?

Topic: This session addressed the quality of university partnerships or the lack thereof. The project leader Paul Leys from Ghent University described the need for more quality in partnerships and the opportunities digitalisation of student mobility brings in terms of data-informed policy making at institutions. Deciding on which partnerships are of strategic nature, which can be improved and possibly also which partnerships should be discontinued are questions each institution should ask itself.

Outcomes: With the support of Mark Frederiks from the European Consortium for Accreditation in Higher Education (ECA) and Stefan Jahnke from the EUF, over 100 participants discussed how to utilise the eQuATIC tool and how to create a common interest between academics, administrations and the management at universities for the need of quality University Partnerships. The tool that will enable institutions to assess the quality of their partnerships is soon to be launched. You can register your institution on the eQuATIC website to be part of the testing phase and get acquainted with the tool.

Learn more: equatic.eu

Toward “European Universities” matching bottom-up energy with top-down strategy

Topic: French President Macron supported the idea of creating  European universities and their pilot phase is now due to start in 2019. This session looked into how joint programmes support  this new initiative and can at the same time be a bottleneck for the full potential of such European university initiatives.

Outcomes: The session, chaired by Andries Verspeeten from Ghent University, concluded on the remark that considerable efforts need to be deployed to build institutional strategies that meet bottom-up initiatives notably contributing in developing Joint Programmes. The participants of the session showed a high degree of interest in the European university initiative, with   over 50% of the roughly 200 participants stating that they are currently preparing to apply for the pilot call on European university initiative 2019/2020.

Learn more: https://www.eaie.org/community/expert-communities/joint-programmes.html and read the position papers on European university initiatives: https://ec.europa.eu/education/european-universities-initiative_en

Quality student mobility through digitisation: the Erasmus+ App

Topic: This session focused on the features and functions of the Erasmus+ App, launched in June 2017. The speakers explained the utility of the app as a single point of entry for Erasmus students, the interconnection with other tools (e.g. Erasmus Dashboard for higher education institutions and Online Learning Agreement platform for students) and its role in the future development of the European Higher Education Area, supporting students, simplifying IROs’ workflow and expanding the Erasmus programme.

Outcomes: The Erasmus+ App celebrates its 50,000 downloads. The mobile application already offers numerous features for exchange students and will grow in functionalities and services to better support students from the very start to end of mobility.

Learn more:Download the Erasmus+ App on Google Play or Apple Store.

Erasmus Without Paper project: join the network!

Topic: TheErasmus Without Paper’s session focused on the EUF’s flagship digital project. The session covered the central functions of the system as well as the ways it can work towards improving the student mobility experience by removing administrative obstacles and freeing resources in order to better advise and support international students on exchange.

Outcomes: From the 12th-13th of December 2018, the EWP Network launch conference will take place at the University of Ghent. The EWP Network invites all the holders of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education to be part of an online network that allows the exchange of student data with any EU Higher Education institution system in a secure and efficient fashion. Harpa Arnarsdottir, from the DG EAC of the European Commission, reiterated the strong support  to the initiative and strongly encouraged universities to prepare for the digital evolution of the Erasmus+ programme: https://twitter.com/Uni_Foundation/status/1040176333245083649.

Learn more: Visit erasmuswithoutpaper.euto know more about joining the network and read this article: https://www.eaie.org/blog/digitising-erasmus-no-more-paperwork.html

Campfire session: Housing

Topic: Housing is always a complicated matter for domestic students but especially for those in mobility schemes, and institutions are developing ways to address the issue. In this informal session, ideas were exchanged on the basis of Erasmus Student Network’s (ESN) good practice examples for dealing with accommodation problems.

Outcomes: The session was conducted in a campfire format, meaning that around 30 participants discussed in an informal format, coordinated by João Pinto, President of the ESN in cooperation with HousingAnywhere, the EUF and the European Commission. Views were exchanged on how the recommendations developed by the HousErasmus+ project in 2017 can be adopted by universities and what needs to change in the next Erasmus+ programme to reduce the housing shortage and difficulties, especially among international students.

Learn more:Find the research results, guidelines and recommendations on https://houserasmus.eu/research

SocialErasmus: encouraging international students to reach out to local communities

Topic: The integrationof Erasmus students into their local community is an area to further develop to enrich the student experience when on mobility.. For this reason, the session focused on the SocialErasmus+ project, led by ESN International, and the way institutions can work to improve student inclusion in local communities.

Outcomes: SocialErasmus+ main activity – Erasmus In Schools – tends to combine both quality learning experience and volunteering to best benefit the students and their local communities. Based on the pilot implementations of the project in Besançon and Vienna, the partners have been able to clearly define the academic framework and the steps that one should undertake to successfully implement this initiative. Apart from the many benefits a student can get, it is also a strategic approach to tackle the globalised challenges HEIs face in today’s world. Useful practical guides on the topic are available on the erasmusinschools.org platform for HEIs and student organisations. Are volunteering and a more social erasmus programme two elements close to your heart? Make sure to sign the petition to support the initiative: https://erasmusinschools.org/news/sign-socialerasmus-charter.

Learn more: erasmusinschools.org and socialerasmus.esn.org

At home and abroad: internationalisation through buddy programmes

Topic: This session, chaired by Etienne Drapeau from ESN France, looked into the role of buddy programmes to connect local students and international students through a matching “students helping students” system, especially in the critical first few weeks. It did so by talking about the tools, good practices and the matching system developed via the Buddy System project including various partner organisations, such as the EUF.

Outcomes: Susanne Lesk (University of Vienna) and Marie Montaldo (EUF) have produced a large-scale research on the buddy programmes’ practices in Europe together with the help of the project partners. The findings of both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies are key to understand the students’ expectations of a buddy relationship as well as the technical and organisational needs one student organisation or HEI could have when conducting a buddy programme. The study also includes good practices to either create or further develop a well-oiled programme. Findings of the research will be available online over the course of November on the buddysystem.eu website. Additionally, a free-to-use online matching tool will be launched by the end of 2019.

Learn more: buddysystem.eu, register for the buddy programme experience training that will take place from the 12th to the 15th of November and/or participate in the conference on the 16th of November in Vienna: https://uni-foundation.eu/buddysystem-training


TIP: Follow @Uni_foundation on Twitter to get more insights on the different sessions at EAIE 2018!