Finding out overseas: what to anticipate for the beginning of the 2021 faculty yr?

Despite the health crisis, international mobility is expected to continue from the beginning of the next school year. If Europe still seems to be the safest solution, other possibilities seem possible. recap.

What international mobility will be possible in the next year? In higher education establishments, the time is still for greater caution in this area, but also for the beginnings of hope. “It won’t be like before Covid, but it will be better than this year“, projects Omar Elmazria, director of international relations at the Polytech Nancy school of engineering. “We are all waiting, there are still many uncertainties. What will be decisive is the evolution of the pandemic and vaccination“, also underlines Jocelyne Brendlé, president of the international and development commission of the Conference of Directors of Schools of Engineering (CDEFI).

Because, in general, institutions have the desire to keep exchanges as long as possible. For example, Lyon 2 University chose “to do not block any mobility. If there is an obstacle, it will be up to the host universities or governments to decide. It is not up to us to give health instructions”, explains James Walker, vice president responsible for international relations. In turn, the Audencia business school in Nantes established the following principle: “Whenever possible, even if it is complex, we support students“, explains program director Nicolas Arnaud. Especially since, as in many business schools, but also in engineering schools or even Sciences po Paris, mobility is mandatory in the course.

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International mobility yes, but with caution

Establishments comply with the recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, country-specific health restrictions, decisions of local partners, etc. Management on a case-by-case basis, subject to last minute changes.

The world map of possible destinations therefore appears to be floating. It can also vary from one institution to another, depending on the policy followed and the strength of the link with the foreign partner. : it is better to consult each department responsible for international relations. For example, Polytech Nancy advises against Brazil and Argentina, but also Asia, to focus more on Europe and Canada. In the United States, doors are starting to open, thanks to mass vaccination: some universities have announced that they will open in person and welcome foreign students, but others have made the opposite choice. “For North America, we recommend the greatest caution”, indicates Emmanuelle Garnier, president of the commission on international and European relations (CORIE) of the Conference of University Deans (CPU), who invites in all cases to “consider alternative plans”.

Almost everyone agrees that departures to India and Brazilor even all of South America, are currently very difficult to plan, given the health chaos. In Asia, the situation is mixed: in addition to India and China, which have not reopened their borders, South Korea is able to receive students. Some countries are also waiting “to see the evolution of the situation in France” to organize themselves, reports Jocelyne Brendlé.

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Europe, safety net

On his side, Europe therefore appears to be a safer option, where mobility is more likely to materialise. “European universities kept their exchange programs much more open than those in North America or Asia”, emphasizes Vanessa Scherrer, from Sciences po Paris, who increased the number of places for the Old Continent. “We really promote this local mobility, we play it safe“, also indicates Jocelyne Brendlé.

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Distance not recommended

In the face of pitfalls, hybrid or remote mobility also seems to be more obvious. Those who lived it this year, abroad or even sometimes in France, “finds value in it”, says Nicolas Arnaud, from Audencia: “They also have experience, with different teaching methods, of working in groups with other nationalities.” The all-English classes also allow you to progress. The school has even developed an offer of distance courses, as an alternative solution and for those who do not want to leave. Others think of developing “internationalization at home” as a complement or preparation for a real exchange.

But generally, the establishments contacted I don’t recommend the distance formula abroad. “If we don’t have guarantees that something will happen in the place (courses, cultural activities, etc.), I think we will block some very degraded mobility”, indicates James Walker, from Lyon 2. It’s no use going to the other side of the world and finding yourself locked in your room.”

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