Traineeship from 01 September 2013 to 28 February 2014.
At the moment of entry, Philip Menzi was completing a bachelor in Business Administration at the University of Bern. Half of his traineeship he dedicated to operational support in the field of education and the other half he spent on the drafting of a research paper on the European instruments in the field of education. The executive summary can be found hereunder.
How can Erasmus+ best support Swiss education institutions’ international endeavours?
The Swiss education institutions have manifold internationalisation strategies and corresponding objectives. How to pursue and realise those objectives varies from one education sector to another as well as from institution to institution. However, what all institutions have in common is the access to a specific range of funding opportunities (instruments) offered by the new European Union's programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport 'Erasmus+', which started on 1 January 2014 and will last until 2020. Each institution should therefore make sure it optimises the use of these funding opportunities to support its international objectives. This report gives answers on how to do so, by providing recommendations for three distinct sectors examined in the report: higher education, vocational education and training, and secondary school education.
An institution can choose to engage internationally at different scales of intensity. There are of course nuances between the three education sectors examined in this report, but the following generic observations on the strategic use of Erasmus+ were extracted from the conclusions and recommendations in this report.
A first option is to use Erasmus+ on an ad-hoc basis and not as a coordinated approach. This entails the possible engaging in mobility and cooperation projects. Already existing cooperation is continued and, if not yet funded with European money, could be turned into an Erasmus+ project. This rather bottom-up approach is often chosen if the institution does not have a centralised internationalisation strategy and objectives. Looking at our internationalisation model, it means that an institution has no clear answer on objectives pursued in any of the four dimensions, i.e. core missions, recruitment, mobility, cooperation. Nevertheless, it can very well be that an institution is active in one or the other dimension, but without having any underlying overall vision of internationalisation.
A second option is to institutionalise internationalisation at the institution expressed in the form of a clear set of international objectives. The use of Erasmus+ then feeds directly into achieving those objectives. As the report shows, one instrument of Erasmus+ can serve several objectives. For example, Erasmus+ is used to enhance the international reputation of an institution or offering an attractive and international learning and working environment. In terms of our internationalisation model, an institution is able to give clear answers on objectives pursued in the four dimensions. The answers still vary from sector to sector, i.e. mobility is explicit in higher education, but not necessarily in vocational education and training. International cooperation is anyhow a priority in one or the other way. For that purpose, Strategic Partnerships, which are a very flexible cooperation instrument of Erasmus+, can be used to work with partners sharing similar interest and goals or bringing a complementary approach to a common issue. In all sectors, Erasmus+ is used to support the international objectives pursued by the institution in a coordinated manner, i.e. with a top-down support from the level of direction.
A third option builds up on the second approach, but in addition makes internationalisation an integrated aspect in an institution's overall strategy. Internationalisation then is not a goal in itself, but directly contributes to the realisation of the goals and objectives of the overall institutional strategy: the participation in Erasmus+ is a strategic mean to reach objectives also in other areas. In the light of our internationalisation model, an institution has clear answers as to what its objectives in the four dimensions are and which dimension are used to serve which objectives. Any instrument in Erasmus+ is thus used strategically. One crucial aspect of this approach is to select a number of partner institutions abroad to cooperate with on a stronger, strategic level and in more than just one area of an institution. The question of with whom and why an institution engages with partners abroad and the ideas of complementarity and clear coordination move into the spotlight in this approach. For example, in higher education, Joint Master degrees can offer an institution the possibility to exploit complementarities with other institutions abroad: uniting resources in areas of studies where the number of students is limited allows to create a pool of talented students, thus feeding into the long-term goal of attracting and retaining talents for doctoral education and early-stage research. The Knowledge Alliances, aimed at cooperation amongst higher education institutions and businesses, are used to support the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, and developing the skills that are relevant for the institution and its students. The same can be said for the Sector Skills Alliances in Vocational Education and Training. These three types of instruments in Erasmus+ have a strategic aspect, where the goal is to reach long-term sustainable international engagement. For this last option even more than for the second one, the involvement and activeness of an institution's direction is highly important in order to promote internationalisation in such an integrated way.
see complete report
see executive summary and recommendations