A strong Finnish: 5 takeaways from #EAIE2019!

A strong Finnish: 5 takeaways from #EAIE2019!

The EAIE conference, one of the largest Higher Education events worldwide, was hosted this year in the Nordic capital Helsinki. 6,000 participants gathered to meet their colleagues, discuss best practices, network and stay up-to-date on the latest developments and strategic priorities of the European Commission.

At the European University Foundation, we know that EAIE is a great way to connect with new partners, meet with longtime colleagues and satisfy your appetite for improved practices in the field of education, research and innovation. But what did you take home at the end of the day? Maybe you really wanted to attend a specific session but couldn’t? Were you too busy to participate in content-based activities?

Don’t panic! We have summarised for you the takeaways of key sessions on the digitisation of Erasmus+, career development and staff competencies for IROs and the internationalisation of PhD education.


Paperless Erasmus: digitalising your student workflow by 2021

Stefan Jahnke (EUF), Harpa Arnarsdottir (EC), Valère Meus (EUF)


After more than 5 years of implementing a Higher Education-driven approach to digitalise student mobility management, the European Commission has officially committed to making it a reality in the next Erasmus programme starting in 2021.

During the session, participants were updated on the latest developments, such as the establishment of a Competence Centre that allows HEIs to get all relevant information on how to adopt EWP in their institution. Furthermore, the European Commission presented the roll-out plan, allowing for a gradual implementation until 2025.

Lastly, the establishment of Digital Officers by National authorities and National Erasmus+ agencies will contribute to making the roll-out process more smooth.


Implementing the European Student Card Initiative

Victor Aguilar (EUF), Jean-Paul Roumegas (Cnous), Tamas Molnar (HU)


The session introduced the latest developments in the European Student Card Initiative, which knits together bottom-up digital projects related to student mobility, including Erasmus Without Paper, the European Student Card Project and MyAcademicID. A special guest to the session, Graeme Robertson-Liersch, representing the European Commission, explained the political context that gave birth to the initiative and its ambitious goal of delivering the vision of a European Education Area by 2025.

Jean-Paul Roumegas showed how universities can add the European hologram and QR code to their existing student cards by connecting to a central router. Tamas Molnar presented the case of Campus Card Berlin, showcasing the card-issuing process, the services that students can access through their cards and the ambition to transition towards virtual student cards. As a glimpse into the future, Victor Aguilar presented MyAcademicID, which will allow students to authenticate electronically to access online services through a single sign-on when going abroad on mobility.

The gradual roll-out of these projects will ensure the safe and seamless exchange of student information between higher education institutions and across borders; the online management of key steps of the mobility process; and the access to e-services for mobile students. In practice, this will translate into simplified procedures, a reduced administrative burden, a reinforced European student status and fewer barriers to student mobility.


Erasmus Virtual Assistant: study choices matter 

Joachim Wyssling (EUF), Graeme Robertson-Liersch (EC), Kaspars Abelnica (ESN)


In this session, targeted essentially at International Relation Officers and mobility coordinators, insights on the forthcoming overhaul of the Erasmus+ mobile App were presented by Graeme Robertson-Liersch, notably with details on how this development will contribute to the European Student Card initiative. Kaspars Abelnica provided insights on how the online application process can be enabled in the context of the Erasmus Without Paper project deliverables.

Further to these presentations, participants exchanged views on how an online application process for outgoing Erasmus Students will improve the mobility experience, as well as on how a digital application can streamline the nomination process towards partner higher education institutions. By the end of the session, 85% of attendants would recommend the Erasmus+ mobile App to their students.


Erasmus+ and the internationalisation of PhD studies

Marie Montaldo (EUF), Harpa Arnarsdottir (EC), Donato Lorubio (UL)


The European Commission announced that they are looking at developing short-term mobilities for PhD candidates in the next Erasmus+ programme as well as blended mobility and intensive programmes to offer more flexibility to PhD candidates to go on mobility regardless of their status (staff/student) and improve the learning opportunities in terms of transversal skills for the future. KA103 will be maintained and a complementary solution for PhDs who wish to cooperate in their field beyond Europe will be established.

The main barriers to PhD mobility, presented by the University of Lorraine, are funding and family-related issues. The DocMob project works on developing new standards for PhD mobility including a single mobility agreement based on 4 components: education, research, teaching and training. The fragmented structure of European doctoral research and education doesn’t allow for equal opportunities. Universities have to include PhD education in their internationalisation strategy at the institutional level.

Developing PhD opportunities and being at the forefront of innovation in the field of education also encompasses collaborating with businesses. The European PhD Hub project (presented by the EUF) has developed a supporting framework for University-Business cooperation and an innovative model that allows local clusters to connect to the rest of Europe to develop PhD education, research and innovation. Good practices can be found here.


Enabling staff competencies to support high-quality Erasmus student mobility

Stefan Jahnke (EUF), Christina Bohle (PU Marburg), Els van der Werf (Hanze UAS)


Throughout the past 30 years, internationalisation has become a fundamental element of each HEIs’ strategy, leading to increased number of staff and student mobility. As a result, the daily work required to conduct quality mobility is ever more complex and challenges of the future like digitalisation and a more global mobility require future-proof skills development.

During the session, the speakers highlighted the lack of recognition and clarity surrounding the work that is being done in the field of international education. Based on those short-comings, the team around the FESC project is creating a framework for staff competencies in internationalisation that will lead to a better understanding of the tasks connected to their work. The framework can be used in different ways. It is a tool that Human Resources departments can utilise when recruiting Erasmus coordinators and members of the International Relation Office or to create professional development plans for their university staff. It can also be used by individual staff members to map their current competences and track their own development.

All in all, participants agreed on the necessity of such a competence framework and the session concluded with a positive tone surrounding the future perspective of working in internationalisation of Higher Education.