The University of Granada was very active in many of the Erasmus+ predecessor programmes and in bilateral mobility with partners all around the world. When the current Erasmus+ Programme took off in 2014, the University particularly welcomed the promise of simplification under one umbrella as well as opportunities for wider-scale funding of cooperation with partner countries, while maintaining the core action of mobility.
The University of Granada has found that the requirement for participating institutions to adopt a more strategic approach with the submission and publication of a policy statement is a positive improvement. It leads to useful internal discussion and reflection on the motivation for internationalisation at the institutional level.
However, there are major concerns about the programme as it stands. One is the degree of decentralisation to National Agencies, in particular of Key Action 2 on Strategic Alliances. This has led to disparate levels of quality among approved projects, and even to divergent applications of rules and regulations. But it has especially meant a regrettable move away from a truly European dimension in the projects submitted under this action. For the next programme, this action should be re-centralised.
The second concern regards International Credit Mobility (ICM) under Key Action 1. The University firmly supports the objective of strengthening its links with partner countries outside Europe as previously made possible by Erasmus Mundus Action 2. However, the way in which the action is organised detracts from the establishing of stable long-term cooperation with partners, due to the short duration of projects and the uncertainty arising from annual re-application for competitive funding. The various funding sources means that there is a lack of funds for some strategic regions - Latin America is a case in point - while it is likely that other regions are over-funded. As a strong believer in the value and impact of incoming mobility for receiving institutions and in experiential learning for students, the University of Granada finds that the limits on outgoing undergraduate student mobility are not always appropriate. It is also puzzling that the Online Language Support programme is not available to ICM participants, many of whom are in much more need of such support than their programme country counterparts who do have access to this welcome addition to the programme. In the next programme, a more flexible and long-term approach to ICM is needed.
A third and final concern is that in the transition from Erasmus Mundus to ICM, an important instrument for capacity-building has been lost: the offer of scholarships for degree-seeking students from partner countries, which was a successful element of Erasmus Mundus Action 2, especially at the postgraduate level. Many partner countries are in considerable need of opportunities of this kind, which cannot be met by the offer of credit mobility where little or no provision of doctoral education exists. Recovering this opportunity in the next programme would allow deeper and more lasting cooperation with partner countries.
By Dorothy Kelly
Dorothy Kelly is the Vice-Rector for Internationalisation at the University of Granada in Spain.
The University of Granada participated in the 2016 EUA member consultation on Erasmus+. To see the survey findings, please click here.
Photo © University of Granada