If, a priori, all students can take part of the course abroad, the reality is more complex. Universities explain the hidden face of partnerships and the criteria taken into account to validate (or not) an exit abroad.
Elise, a graduate in Applied Foreign Languages, remembers seeing her mobility year fly by without any real explanation: “The university just told us there wasn’t room for everyone… At LEA, I don’t understand why we are not given priority to go abroad”.
Couldn’t all students stay abroad? According to the universities of Paris-Saclay, Aix-Marseille and Strasbourg, several factors must be taken into account understand in which cases mobility is possible or not.
Destinations chosen according to requests
It all starts with the choice of countries. “There are several factors to combine: first, going to the field to understand the needs of students and UFRs🇧🇷 But there is also the political strategy of the establishment, national, European and international politics”, explains Irina Nicoleta Simion, director of international relations at the University of Strasbourg.
Right now, Universities depend more on partnerships with English language countries “because the demand is great”, such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Since Brexit, universities have also noticed a renewed interest in the Scandinavian countries and in particular Sweden🇧🇷
In total, the University of Aix-Marseille has 590 partners in 62 countries. In Strasbourg, there are 735 partners in 73 countries and more than half are Erasmus+ exchanges.
In addition to the country, international relations also focus on educational content of host establishments🇧🇷 “When we look for partners, we look at course equivalencies: is what they offer consistent with what we do at Saclay? Why? the interest is to validate a French equivalent and ensure that students don’t waste time”, explains Yoann Buidin-Ferrer, responsible for outgoing mobility at the University of Paris-Saclay.
The opportunity to take courses that you could also have taken in France or complementary courses🇧🇷 “Some UFRs seek to develop transversal skills in their students. For example, students from the Faculty of Sports are very motivated to go to the United States because the country offers training opportunities related to sports that do not exist in other countries, such as American football . attractive to INSPE, psychology or kinesiology students because the courses in educational sciences offer an innovative approach“, specifies Irina Nicoleta Simion.
However, some trainings are sometimes very specific, what makes mobility difficult🇧🇷 This is the case for medical students. In Saclay, there are no partnerships with Quebec because “many establishments do not offer medical programs, but we always find an exchange to offer students“, confirms Yoann Buidin-Ferrer.
How many students can go with your university?
Everything then thickens with the rule of reciprocity which is not always known by students. It’s not because law students left vacancies to go to Ireland that history students will be able to occupy these places. 🇧🇷There is reciprocity in the number of places, it is very rare that it is unlimited, confirms the head of the University of Paris-Saclay. For example, with a partner in Madrid, we have agreements in 22 disciplines, with six vacancies in law, four in physics, two in biology, two in mathematics.”
At the University of Aix-Marseille, one third of mobility is reserved for students of the Faculty of Arts. 🇧🇷It happens that in certain destinations there are very few placesespecially for countries outside Europe, like South Korea, for example”, underlines Christine Logier, director of international relations. “In fact, sometimes we can derogate the rule of reciprocity. We make exceptions“, tempers Irina Nicoleta Simion.
a double selection
The head of the University of Strasbourg also confirms that there are often more partnerships than real mobility. 🇧🇷There is a selection: we take into account academic results but also linguistic and cultural preparation, motivation. Then the partner also makes his selection. Which explains why not all students drop out.”
The director of international relations at the University of Aix-Marseille also warns about the viability of the projects. “Mobility, you have to be able to afford it financially. We cannot place a student in academic or financial difficulties🇧🇷 They are thus accompanied by a mobility referent within their UFR to advise them on their choice, scholarships, procedures…”
Restricted vacancies, very supervised partnerships, pedagogical coherence… You will have understood that if all students have the opportunity to study abroad during the course, possibilities may be reduced or limited : you can also do this very early to put the odds on your side.