European universities: what penalties for scholar mobility?

European universities want to simplify and strengthen student mobility for everyone. In all, 41 alliances are entering a new phase of experimentation, with a European diploma and European student card in sight.

“Offering the possibility for students to study anywhere as at home”: this is the objective announced by Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education, during the European Universities campus, which took place on Thursday, June 30, in Versailles (78).

European Universities are networks of institutions from several European countries that work together to allow students and staff to move easily between partners to train, teach and carry out research. The ultimate goal is to put create courses where students from each partner university study abroad and take courses in at least two languages.

Towards European degrees

To date, there are 41 European University Alliances, involving 294 higher education institutions in 32 countries and representing 7 million students. France, particularly involved, is present in 28 alliances.

These projects are coming out of an experimental phase and should develop further in the coming years. The government’s goal is to reach 60 European universities by 2025. For In this horizon, each alliance must also have a European “inter-university” campus that allows the mobility of at least 50% of students and new joint training programs delivered in all three cycles.

According to the principle of Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, European diplomas should see the light of day. They will be recognized throughout the Union, by establishments but also on the labor market. While European legislation is expected to authorize this novelty, an experiment in labeling joint degrees from European universities has just been launched.

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A European student card

With the development of European universities, the creation of a European student card aims to promote mobility. In the experimental phase, it will be fully deployed by 2025. An initiative that will “remove obstacles to mobility and dematerialize experience”according to Juan Rayón, president of the association ESN (Erasmus Student Network), interviewed on the sidelines of the conference.

This card also aims to simplify procedures: the student will have a single entry point and will not need to redo assignments to continue their studies in Europe. It will also facilitate student life by providing access to places such as libraries, campuses, offers in Europe… “It will create a European student body”, guarantees Juan Rayón.

lift the brakes

European universities must therefore promote international mobility for all. “The key to encouraging mobility is how it is perceived by universities. For now, they have a positive opinion about mobility, but they do not consider it crucial”, underlines Juan Rayón. For him, these alliances will therefore make a difference, because they are a sign that student mobility is now at the center of concerns.

According to the president of the ESN, obstacles to student mobility are cost, lack of clarity, the programs offered, as well as self-censorship and lack of support from family members. Matches can develop thanks to a better system of grants, namely with simplified procedures and guarantee of timely payment. “If the student is not afraid, because he is guaranteed a scholarship and prestige with the exchange, he will leave”, summarizes the president of the ESN.

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Enable mobility for all students

For Jakub Grodecki, vice-president of the ESU (European Students’ Union), European universities must reach as many students as possible. “Erasmus is very accessible, but there are always students who are deprived of it, especially those who lack resources. Institutions that have joined the European University Alliances need to think about how to make European universities more accessible so that they don’t make the same mistake again.

The scale of the alliances already allows reaching millions of students. The development of funding will therefore be the first lever to democratize mobility. “These are scholarships, but also accommodation. For example, exchanges can be organized for students from a European university to change apartments when they move to another country”, explains Jakub Grodecki.

Although a four-year pilot phase has just ended, a new chapter opens for European universities from this summer, highlights the vice president of ESU. “We are at the beginning, it will be exciting to see what happens. Universities are going to do a lot of proposals and experiments.”

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