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New programmes for mobility

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Europe’s top research universities are pushing for more structured forms of student mobility, to build on the achievements of the Erasmus exchange programme, which they say is reaching its limits. Newer forms of ‘networked’ and ‘embedded’ student mobility are needed.

These forms of student mobility will be costly and will possibly require difficult decisions and commitments from institutions, governments and the European Commission, says the League of European Research Universities, or LERU, which represents the top 21 research-intensive universities in Europe.

But such schemes are “an important step towards the modernisation of Europe’s higher education institutions”, says a new LERU advice paper, “International Curricula and Student Mobility”.

The paper starts from the generally accepted proposition that student mobility “plays an increasingly crucial role in science, technology, industry, business, politics, culture and all possible dimensions of a global society”.

But it goes on to recognise that “current educational programmes at European universities are often not sufficiently well developed to provide each student with such awareness".

Three basic mobility models are identified in the paper:

Exchange mobility, where students themselves choose to have an experience abroad for a short or longer period of time – the Erasmus model.

Networked mobility and curricula, where a university joins a network with several partners and sends its students for a certain period of time to one or more partner institutions.

Embedded mobility and curricula, where a limited number of partners form a consortium in which students ‘rotate’ and follow parts of their educational trajectory in two or more partner institutions.

The important new point is the creation of clear alternatives to the current ‘student chooses’ model so as to bring in systems where professors have the important say.

Not only European but also national policy-makers will have to make an effort to achieve this, says the LERU paper.

Those with the power to decide in this area “should strive to remove existing barriers that hamper more structural cooperation between universities in different European countries in the field of student mobility,” it says.

Source: University World News

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