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Students studying abroad and the European Higher Education Area Briefing for students’ unions

Supported by:


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Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 UK students studying abroad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 –10 UK students studying in other European countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Erasmus Student Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 UK students studying in English-speaking countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 NUS Student Experience Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 –11 Students’ unions supporting student mobility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 –17 Role of students’ unions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Questions to ask your institution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Students’ union support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Why set up an Erasmus society? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Case study: Robert Gordon Erasmus/Exchange Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Case study: Newcastle University Erasmus Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Case study: Loughborough Erasmus Students’ Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Setting up an Erasmus Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Case study: University of Edinburgh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Case study: University of Bath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Experiences of Erasmus students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 –20 Home or away . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Erasmus placement, Bologna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Information sheets for students: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 – 31 Information sheet 1: Benefits of studying abroad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Information sheet 2: How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Information sheet 3: Can I study abroad if I have a disability? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Information sheet 4: Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Information sheet 5: Recognition of study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Information sheet 6: Languages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Information for students’ unions: Bologna Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


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Acknowledgements We would like to thank the many people involved in commenting and improving this briefing, but particular thanks to Alex Bols, Head of Education and Quality at NUS and a member of the UK Team of Bologna Experts for writing the briefing. Firstly, thanks to the NUS European Coordination Group for their comments and contributions: George Charonis, Vice-President Education, University of Bath Students' Union Jack Clemson, Vice President Academic Affairs, University of Derby Students' Union Emma Di Iorio, Vice President Education, University of Bristol Union Alexander Erdlenbruch, International Students’ Officer, University of Sheffield Union of Students Mark Grayling, General Manager, Nottingham Trent Students’ Union Fabian Neuner, President, University of Birmingham Guild of Students Madalena Ngongola, International Students’ Committee, NUS Andy Patton, International Students’ Officer, Swansea University Students' Union Phil Pilkington, Deputy General Manager, Coventry University Students' Union Liz Williams, National Executive Council, NUS Christina Yan Zhang, National Executive Council, NUS Aaron Porter, Vice President (Higher Education), NUS Secondly, we would like to thank the many representatives from external organisations who commented on the report including: David Hibler, Irene Aves and Catrin Davies from the British Council; Katie Haines, UK Erasmus Student Committee; Peter Baldwinson, Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS); Paul Dowling, Europe Unit; Mohammed Surve, Morgane Artacho, Guy Bromley and John Reilly, UK Team of Bologna Experts. Finally, special thanks to colleagues from NUS Scotland for allowing us to use parts of their Wee Book of Studying Abroad in the briefing as well as detailed comments from NUS Scotland President, Liam Burns.


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Foreword

Welcome to this NUS guide to studying abroad and European higher education. This guide aims to provide students’ unions with information to support students studying abroad and questions to ask institutions about possible structural challenges such as recognition of credit. It also highlights the benefits of students studying abroad and how students’ unions can publicise these to students. We have also included some useful information sheets targeted at students. The NUS Student Experience Report shows that students receive many benefits from studying abroad, including greater confidence and becoming more self-reliant as well as improved employment prospects. This is also reinforced by discussions I have with employers, who cite the benefit of employing someone who has studied abroad. The Erasmus Programme, which enables students to study abroad, is one of the most high profile European Union schemes, and helps create a greater sense of European identity as well as benefitting the individuals, but the UK has further to go in encouraging UK students to take part in the scheme. There are, however, increasing numbers of students studying abroad in other English-speaking countries. Ministers of education from across Europe have been coming together since 1999 to create a European Higher Education Area which has student, graduate and university staff mobility at its core. These ministers met recently in Belgium at a summit as part of this ‘Bologna Process’ and highlighted the benefits and importance of studying and working abroad. They set the challenging aim that 20 per cent of students graduating in 2020 should have studied or trained abroad. The 20 per cent target is exceptionally challenging and will take considerable effort, as well as a strategic approach, but even this would leave 80 per cent of students without the experience of studying abroad. We must also think more creatively about how we truly internationalise our institutions and integrate virtual mobility into our curriculum more broadly. We hope that this guide is useful and we look forward to working together to further encourage and support students to study abroad. Finally, we would like to thank the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for supporting this publication and enabling us to produce a printed version.

Aaron Porter Vice President (Higher Education) NUS

Liz Williams Block of 15 NUS

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Introduction For as long as there have been universities there have been students travelling from different countries to study at them. In 1987 the European Union created the Erasmus programme specifically to support, encourage and promote this. The programme is named after the 15th century humanist theologian from Rotterdam, who himself studied in Paris, Leuven and Cambridge. Since 1987 more than 2 million students have experienced a period of studying abroad and there are currently more than 4,000 higher education institutions in 31 countries that are participating in the programme. Whilst Erasmus is perhaps one of the most well-known programmes of the EU it is interesting to note that higher education is not subject to common European policy. Responsibility for the content and the organisation of studies remains at national and institutional level. Article 149 of the Treaty of Nice outlines that the European Community “shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States” through a wide range of actions, such as promoting the mobility of citizens, designing joint study programmes, establishing networks, exchanging information or teaching languages of the EU. Since 1999, through the development of the European Higher Education Area, the so-called ‘Bologna Process’, student mobility has received added impetus. Academic mobility of students and staff is one of the core issues and key principles in building the European Higher Education Area. At the Ministerial Summit in Prague (2001) the centrality of mobility was reaffirmed by focusing on the removal of obstacles to the free movement of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff. The European Students’ Union (ESU) represents the National Unions of Students from 36 European countries, including NUS UK. ESU is fully involved in the discussions and structures surrounding the Bologna Process and has ensured that the student voice is heard at the centre of the process. ESU’s ‘Let’s Go’ campaign around the promotion of student and staff mobility resulted in student and staff events and campaigns throughout Europe. This included lobbying for a target for the number of students studying abroad which was agreed at the Ministerial Summit in Leuven, Belgium in April 2009:

“We believe that mobility of students, early stage researchers and staff is important for personal development and employability. It encourages linguistic pluralism. We call upon each country to increase mobility, to ensure its high quality and to diversify its types and scope. In 2020, at least 20 per cent of those graduating in the European Higher Education Area should have had a study or training period abroad.”

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UK students studying in other European countries UK students studying in other European countries Current trends The value of students studying and training abroad is widely recognised in the UK. However there is still a very real struggle in getting students to see the benefits of studying abroad. The number of UK students participating in the Erasmus scheme was 10,251 in 2007/08 compared to 16,321 European students coming to the UK. Since 2000/01 there has been a significant decrease in the number of UK students studying abroad, although there have been slight increases over the last two years. This compares to Germany which has seen a rapid increase from around 16,000 to 24,000. The UK also sends significantly fewer students abroad than Spain, France and Italy – and in recent years Poland has also overtaken us. By destination country Looking at the statistics it is interesting to note that whilst there are 31 countries involved in the Erasmus programme, the top five destinations for UK students are still the traditional, neighbouring, countries: 1.

France

3,429

2.

Spain

2,267

3.

Germany

1,579

4.

Italy

772

5.

Netherlands

397

By subject area The largest number of UK students studying abroad are those students who study languages, which is three times more than the next subject area. This may not be surprising as periods of study abroad have been integrated into language courses, and language is one of the key concerns amongst students about studying abroad (2007/08 figures): 1.

Languages and philological studies

4,920

2.

Business studies and management sciences

1,414

3.

Law

802

4.

Social sciences

738

5.

Art and design

638

By level of study There is an uneven distribution in the number of students taking up Erasmus opportunities depending on the level of study within higher education:

6

Undergraduate

6,875

Postgraduate

277

Doctoral

83


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Statistical analysis also shows that UK mobile students are more likely to be white, from a high-income family with previous experience of travelling or living abroad, and generally more self-assured and academically capable than their peers.1 This highlights the importance of students’ unions engaging in encouraging wider participation in mobility programmes. A recent HEFCE publication2 showed that in the 2002/03 cohort the students who studied abroad were more likely to be from higher socio-economic classes. Eighty-two per cent of young Erasmus students and 83 per cent of others who studied abroad came from socio-economic classes 1–3 (managerial, professional and intermediate occupations). The proportion across all young students in the cohort was 74 per cent. If we are truly to ensure a mobile student body, and meet the 20 per cent aspiration set by ministers, then universities will need to consider how they embed periods of study or training abroad into a wider range of subjects, and also at different levels within higher education. The HEFCE report went on to show that of the 203,275 students who started a full-time first degree course in 2002/03 and went on to gain a first degree within five years, 4 per cent did a period of study abroad, so there is still some way to go to reach the 20 per cent target. Just over half (55 per cent) of the entrants who participated in the Erasmus programme in their first degree studied abroad for a whole academic year. The overwhelming majority of entrants who did other forms of study abroad (96 per cent) did so for a whole academic year. Students who studied abroad had a better profile of degree results. Seventy-five per cent of the Erasmus students received a first or an upper second class degree, compared to 81 per cent for students on other periods of study abroad and 60 per cent of other students from four-year courses. Six months after graduating, Erasmus students were more likely to be engaged in further study but those in employment were substantially more likely to be employed abroad and had above-average salaries.

1 2

The Future of Student Mobility, Feb 2008, UK HE Europe Unit Attainment in Higher Education: Erasmus and Placement Students, Nov 2009, HEFCE

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Erasmus Student Charter The Erasmus Student Charter contains information on the rights and responsibilities of the student undertaking an Erasmus period. The Erasmus Student Charter will be given, by the home institution, to each participating student in the Erasmus programme. It lists entitlements such as free tuition and recognition of studies abroad, and responsibilities of the student such as observing the rules and regulations of the host institution. The status of Erasmus student applies to students who satisfy the Erasmus eligibility criteria and who have been selected by their institution to spend an Erasmus study period abroad at a partner institution in Europe. Both institutions must have an Erasmus University Charter awarded by the European Commission. As an Erasmus student, you are entitled to expect:

• Your home university and your host university to sign a learning agreement with you before you leave. This agreement will set out the details of your planned studies abroad, including the credits to be achieved.

• A transcript of records at the end of your studies abroad, signed by your host university. This will record your results with the credits and grades achieved.

• Full academic recognition from your home university for credits achieved during the Erasmus study period, in accordance with the learning agreement.

• Not to have to pay fees to your host university for tuition, registration, examinations or access to laboratory and library facilities during your Erasmus studies.

• Your student grant or loan from your home country to be maintained while you are abroad. As an Erasmus student, you are expected to:

• Respect the rules and obligations of the Erasmus contract with your home university or your national agency.

• Ensure that any changes to the learning agreement are agreed in writing with both the home and host university as soon as they occur.

• Spend the full study period as agreed at the host university, including examinations or other forms of assessment, and respect its rules and regulations.

• Write a report on your Erasmus study period abroad when your return. If you have a problem:

• Identify the problem clearly and check your rights and obligations. • Contact your departmental coordinator and use the formal appeals procedure of your home university. • If you remain dissatisfied, contact your Erasmus national agency, in the UK this is the British Council. www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus

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UK students studying in English-speaking countries Whilst many students study abroad for part of their degree through the Erasmus Programme, some students study abroad for their whole degree – in Europe, English-speaking countries, or elsewhere. In 2007 UK students studied in many English-speaking countries. The US accounts for 34 per cent of all UK students studying abroad, with Australia accounting for 6.7 per cent and Canada 8.6 per cent. Country of study

UK students

% of all UK students abroad

Australia

1,687

6.7%

Canada

2,181

8.6%

New Zealand

431

1.7%

United States

8,625

34.0%

Total all destinations

25,359

100.0%

Source: OECD The Open Doors publication from the Institute of International Education (http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/page/25072/) has statistics on UK students in the US. In academic year 2007/08, there were 8,367 students from the UK studying in the US (down 0.8 per cent from the previous year). The UK is the 14th-leading place of origin for students coming to the US, following Vietnam (8,769). The majority of students from the UK study at undergraduate level. In 2007/08, their breakdown was as follows:

6.8% 12.5% 50.2% 30.5%

50.2% undergraduate 30.5% graduate students 12.5% other 6.8% OPT (optional practical training)

Year

Number of students from UK

% of total foreign students in US

2007/08

8,367

1.3%

2006/07

8,438

1.4%

2005/06

8,274

1.5%

There are also many mobility programmes for students to study in US and other English-speaking countries as part of their degree. The British Universities Transatlantic Exchange Association (BUTEX, www.butex.ac.uk) represents over 80 higher education institutions in the UK with active transatlantic links and interests, most of which have a variety of individual exchange arrangements with North American universities and colleges.

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NUS Student Experience Survey The recent NUS Student Experience Report looked at students studying abroad. In response to the question “Have you, or are you planning on studying abroad as part of your course?” 16 per cent answered that they had considered it or were planning it, and this rose to 20 per cent of those students in their first year. There is clearly a latent interest that could be tapped to improve the UK’s position. It is also interesting looking at the response to this question by type of university, with 23 per cent of those at Russell Group institutions responding that they were considering it compared to 11 per cent at Post1992 universities. Have you, or are you planning on studying abroad as part of your course? (Sample: 2,430) 16% 8%

76%

Yes* 16% No 76% Don’t know 8% *Yes: Russell Group – 23% Pre-1992 university – 18% Post-1992 university/other university – 11%

The Student Experience Report went on to ask, “What did, or do, you hope to gain as a result of studying abroad?” “Greater confidence” came out as the most cited answer with 76 per cent overall but this masked a significant gender split, with 68 per cent of males responding to this compared to 81 per cent of female students. Other highly cited reasons included better employment prospects (72 per cent), becoming more self-reliant (66 per cent) and better language skills (61 per cent).

72% 66%

76%

61%

3%

10

What did, or do, you hope to gain as a result of studying abroad? Greater confidence 76% (male: 68%; female: 81%) Better employment prospects 72% (male: 70%; female: 73%) Become more self-reliant 66% (male: 61%; female: 70%) Better language skills 61% (male: 57%; female: 64%) Experience wide/different experiences 3% (male: 5%; female: 3%)


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The Report went on to look at why students had not or were not planning to study abroad, with the highest response being that it was not relevant/applicable to their course (55 per cent), and this links back to the way in which study abroad is integrated into their course. The second highest reason was the concern about financial implications (33 per cent). Part of this will be that students are not aware of the Erasmus grants but there are also very real concerns about losing part-time jobs and accommodation in the UK. Other concerns included lack/uncertain about language ability (19 per cent), worried about having to study for another year (10 per cent) (even if this may not be the case in all examples) and not being aware of the opportunity (9 per cent).

Why haven’t you, or why aren’t you planning to study abroad?

33%

19%

55%

10% 9%

Not relevant/applicable to my course 55% Concern about financial implications 33% Lack/uncertain about language ability 19% Worried about having to study for another year 10% Wasn’t aware of the opportunity 9%

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Students’ unions supporting student mobility Role of students’ unions Students’ unions have a key role in student mobility – firstly addressing some of the structural issues that there may be at an institutional level – such as ensuring that students abroad are supported and their period of study recognised – and secondly looking at how they can encourage and promote students to study abroad. We have highlighted a number of case studies of Erasmus societies which unions have developed to support students studying at their institution, those studying abroad and to promote student mobility. We have also highlighted an example from the University of Edinburgh of how the Erasmus society worked with their institution, embedding a target for Edinburgh students studying abroad as part of their strategic plan.

Questions to ask your institution There are a number of issues that the students’ union can address with their institution to ensure that students have a high quality experience: 1.

Is the period of studying embedded within the course and is the period of study recognised? Do they get a differently named qualification to emphasise any additional time/effort? Are study abroad periods recognised on the student’s academic transcript?

2.

How are credits incorporated into a student’s qualification – if they pass their study abroad period and are awarded credit points (ECTS) for this, and how does this translate into grading such as a first, 2:1, 2:2 etc?

3.

What support does your institution provide for students studying abroad? Do they have a named contact within their home institution? How are students studying abroad supported in the administrative details, such as select course options for the following year or finding accommodation?

4.

How does your institution promote Erasmus? What efforts does the institution make to illustrate to students what the benefits of a year abroad can be and to fight common misconceptions about negative aspects of studying/working abroad?

5.

Does your institution publicise study abroad opportunities as part of open days and outreach activities?

6.

Is encouraging home student mobility incorporated into the institutional international strategy?

7.

Does the institution provide free language courses for those going on study abroad? If yes, could this be broadened out to all students?

8.

Does the institution organise promotional events for students at the institution, such as Erasmus fairs? Is there funding available from your institution for the students’ union to run these type of events?

9.

Is there an Erasmus/study abroad point of contact in all departments? How are they publicised?

10. Does the institution highlight the differences there may be in studying in different countries?

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Students’ union support Students’ unions also have a key role to ensure that students studying abroad are supported whilst they are abroad. The students’ union can provide students with information about their services even when they are not on campus – this could include:

• providing information about any developments in the students’ union, maybe through a periodic newsletter • ensuring that students are able to vote in students’ union elections • ensuring that students are represented through the appropriate course and other committees to ensure that their views are not lost just because they are abroad.

Why set up an Erasmus society? Some students’ unions have Erasmus societies, which can be a great way to integrate incoming Erasmus students and which could be used to help provide information for outgoing Erasmus students and to promote the possibilities of studying abroad. Erasmus societies can support students returning from study abroad to reintegrate in their home countries by keeping in contact with an international environment while they are overseas. These societies are often set up by former exchange students, often because they had good experiences or because they felt a lack of help during their exchange. These students also understand better the issues and challenges in a foreign environment. The societies are particularly useful for current Erasmus students studying on campus, who often face problems (and feel abandoned) in their new environments. Erasmus societies can offer help with academic, social and practical integration processes. This can include organising cultural and social events such as trips to various places within the country, film nights, buddy group and language projects and international food festivals and last – but not least – parties. In addition, many societes have introduced mentor systems, to help international students, mainly in academic and practical integration. There is a UK Erasmus Student Committee (www.ukerasmus.com) which can come and speak to your Erasmus society or students’ union about how you can promote student mobility. It can also offer advice on working with your institution to increase the numbers of students studying abroad. The British Council also has links with a number of university Erasmus societies, and those interested in setting up their own society could get in touch via email (Erasmus@britishcouncil.org). There is also a European network of these societies, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). ESN is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1990 for supporting and developing student exchange. For more information see www.esn.org

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Case study: Robert Gordon University: Erasmus/Exchange Society How was it set up? Robert Gordon University (RGU) Erasmus/Exchange was started up in June 2009. Anna Frankowska and Susannah Nichol set up the society after coming back from an Erasmus trip in the Netherlands. Having had a great time there with the help of an excellent Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team, the society was set up to ensure people coming to RGU had a great time here also. The European Coordinator, Julia Kennedy, was eager to help with the start up of the society, and also contacted previous Erasmus students from RGU to help out and sign up to the society. The Erasmus team had a stand at the RGU Freshers’ Fayre at the beginning of term in order to both recruit members and increase knowledge of the society as well as promoting the Erasmus programme. Also, the use of the Facebook group to boost the society and communicate with students has been very successful, with over 140 members. Activities The main purpose of the society is to organise social events. So far it has held a welcome day/photography competition and a tour of Aberdeen. The welcome day mixed all the Erasmus students in different groups and the RGU Erasmus/Exchange team individually took them around the city and took various pictures relating to a chosen theme – eg Scottish culture. Other events so far have included a stereotype party, Flintstones themed bowling night (over 50 students attended), a three-legged pub crawl, Guy Fawkes fireworks night and a karaoke night. Future plans In the future the society also hopes to take the students on trips around Scotland. The society organises events and discounts for the students – eg in clubs/bowling nights etc. The society is linked with the RGU Union, which helps to print posters free of charge for the society as well as letting it book out rooms and host parties and events.

Case study: Newcastle University Erasmus Society This year as a society we have around 135 members, the vast majority of whom are Erasmus students here in Newcastle, though we do welcome British students who have been on Erasmus or are interested in doing so. We offer our members the opportunity to integrate into British life as much as possible by allowing them to meet fellow Erasmus students as well as British students. We organise various types of social events (such as pub quizzes, pub crawls, film nights, salsa nights etc) and excursions (for example to York, Durham and Edinburgh), which are always very popular and well attended. The society is run by our committee. We have five committee members (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary and two Event Organisers) and we meet every week at a designated time for an hour or so to keep up to date with everything and discuss any future plans or activities. I find that for a society of our size five committee members is perfectly sufficient. Unlike many societies, our whole committee changes every year (which presents its advantages and disadvantages) though this is something I will be looking into since the lack of continuity can be a problem. All

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committee members have already been on Erasmus and I feel it is necessary that some (if not all) committee members have done so, since you can really understand how the Erasmus students feel and what they want after having being in their situation yourself. As a society we belong to the Union Society at Newcastle. The students’ union gives us a grant at the beginning of the year (how much you receive varies), which helps us to do more things. This, of course, is in addition to the money we receive from people paying to join the society. We charge £5 for membership, something I feel is great value for money considering what we offer; though you would be surprised how many Erasmus students complain about the price. However, for us to organise events we cannot afford for the price of membership to be any lower. Michael Williams, President of the Erasmus Society, Newcastle University

Case study: Loughborough Erasmus Students Network Background information In 2006, Loughborough University (LU) published its 10 year strategic plan ‘Towards 2016’ – Internationalisation Development, which aims to give every Loughborough student a truly globalised experience. The students’ union (LSU), through International Development Officer, Christina Yan Zhang, and Prof Chris Backhouse (Director of Internationalisation Strategy) on behalf of the university worked together to develop the ‘Lufbra’s Going Global’ campaign. Chris successfully persuaded LU to give £3,000 to LSU to create the Erasmus Society. In 2008, with full support from both LU and LSU, Loughborough Erasmus Students’ Network was formed by Adam Greenwood, a British student who did his Erasmus in the Netherlands. Activities have included:

• Establishing the Erasmus Football Team Erasmus and UK students are regularly trained. For example, they beat the Afro-Caribbean society 2–0 • Holding socials and sporting events with other universities You can organise joint events with other universities to bring Erasmus students together, for example, the Loughborough Erasmus society organised football matches and socials with the Nottingham University Erasmus Student Network. • International Mobility Day. “This year, 300 students attended the first International Mobility Day held by LSU. This event showcased the incredibly wide range of international opportunities available to all Loughborough students as well as current Erasmus students on exchange from partner universities. On offer at the event were international volunteering projects, representatives from the International Students’ Association, ambassadors from the Erasmus network, the Global Development Group and many others. In addition to this, students got the chance to learn Chinese or Japanese script writing, find out about international work placements or sample a variety of international food.” Pawel Malon, Global Development Officer 2009/10, Loughborough Students’ Union Christina Yan Zhang, NUS National Executive Council

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Setting up an Erasmus society 1. Your students’ union will have rules on setting up a new society. It is important to find these out as it may result in funding for the society. 2. Identify other Erasmus students to come together to establish the society and identify areas that you can work on. 3. Speak to the European Office in your institution, as they may be able to offer help and support, including how you can identify other Erasmus students and possibly even obtain some funding. 4. Consider not just how you can support Erasmus students studying at your institution, but also how you can encourage UK students to take advantage of the same opportunities and also how you can support these students when they are abroad. 5. Have fun …

Case study: University of Edinburgh Tandem – Language Exchange Scheme Tandem, launched in 2007 by Edinburgh University Students’ Association with the help of a £9,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Fresh Talent fund, gives students the ability to link up with native speakers for foreign language conversation exchange. Now with 1,700 users and over 100 languages, the scheme is entering its third year. In addition to the online match system (only visible to University of Edinburgh students via the student portal, MyEd), regular speed dating-style ‘Speed Lingua’ events are held to allow students to find language partners. Tandem also serves the function of better integrating native English speaking students with the rest of the university’s population. This is designed to harness the language and cultural diversity of Edinburgh students and give non-UK students greater exposure to UK culture. With regard to encouraging outgoing exchange, Tandem is designed to give people the confidence to speak another language and allow them to meet people who are currently in Edinburgh on a semester or year abroad, which may help affect their own plans. www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/tandem University of Edinburgh strategic plan Stated target: “To increase the proportion of our students attending another international institution by 50 per cent” By having a target of increasing the proportion of students attending another international institution between 2008–12 the University of Edinburgh states a commitment which will undoubtedly allow it to get closer to achieving some Bologna Process goals. The strategic plan does not include specific targets on European mobility, but additional university policy has changed in 2009/10, which will mean that each department must have an Erasmus advocate, which along with the university’s circa £40,000 budget for publicising international exchange is set

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to help achievement of the 2012 target. Copies of the University of Edinburgh strategic plan 2008–12 can be found at: http://www.planning.ed.ac.uk/Strategic_Planning/SP2008-12/index.htm Free languages for all Currently, Bath University is the only university in the UK to offer its students free foreign language classes. Edinburgh is soon to get the same. Using the university’s own Institute for Applied Language Studies, and tapping into support from the Individual Learning Account (www.ilascotland.org.uk), which funds accredited courses for EU citizens resident in Scotland, it is hoped that improving students’ language skills will encourage them to consider going on a year abroad. It is also an additional way of improving the university experience. This was lobbied for by Edinburgh University Students’ Association and has express support from the university Principal, Tim O’Shea. Guy Bromley, University of Edinburgh

Case study: University of Bath Studying and Working abroad for students at the University of Bath All Departments at the University of Bath offer programmes which provide the opportunity for a work or study placement, whether in the UK or abroad. The extension of Erasmus grants to work placements has resulted in increasing the number of students receiving grants by over 50 per cent. Work placements are well integrated into study programmes. For example, in the Department of Economics they offer a placement year programme, which some students choose to take abroad. It is also interesting to note that some overseas students choose to go back to their home countries to do a placement. These placements are in a variety of organisations – from government, industry and research organisations, and they integrate practical experience and theoretical study. About two-thirds of the students in the department participate in placements. Industrial training is an option on all three programmes in the department and students are supported by a full-time placement officer, together with economics staff, who find placements and generally manage the process and ensure that students are properly informed and supported. As well as across the UK the department offers placements in Brussels, Washington and Nairobi. “Attending committees is a very interesting aspect of my placement as I have the opportunity to gain a unique insight into the functioning of the legislative process in the European Parliament. I am learning about the institutions of Europe and am developing a real understanding of how the decision-making process operates between 25 Member States with different approaches to policy, and sometimes conflicting notions of European integration. In more general terms, I have found working in Brussels a great experience and have been impressed with the amount of responsibility and respect I have been given from the outset. I also find it very interesting to be so closely involved in the interaction between the CBI’s Trade Association members and MEP’s as I can observe how industry can influence political decisions. Placement students, Confederation of British Industry, Brussels office George-K. Charonis, Vice President (Education), University of Bath Students’ Union

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Experiences of Erasmus Students Home or Away Following her time in Barcelona as an Erasmus student last academic year, Emma Kelly recounts her experiences of living, working and studying in the Catalan capital. Emma was awarded the prize for Regional Winner for England in the British Council essay competition for her entry. This piece is an edited version of the winning entry. Contrary to popular belief, the final month was perhaps more testing than the first, saying adios was definitely more troubling than all the awkward holas and qué pasas I mumbled embarrassingly in the early days. By August, I had made the linguistic improvements that previous students had prided themselves on and which I never believed could be true for me; understanding a lecture in Spanish, making sense of the conversations I subtly eavesdropped on in the street and working in a Spanish-speaking business. Personally, I had made strong attachments to the people, culture and, most of all, the city, an emotional attachment that no one could have prepared me for and one that made the numerous farewells extremely difficult. Oral classes at university had always been a huge personal challenge. Such classes were a game of careful seating and furtive glances rather than words – avoiding eye contact with the lecturer as intently as the ‘I’ of the subjunctive conjugation of ser. The thought of answering any form of question brought me out in a cold sweat, a cold sweat partially welcomed when I stepped through the revolving doors of Aeropuerto El Prat and faced the 34ºC heat and the row of black and yellow taxicabs. It had been less than one hour into my year abroad and not only was I confronted by the insatiable heat but also my insecurity about speaking a foreign language. I sensed the year was going to be a learning curve with a steep uphill struggle, from which no amount of crafty glances around a classroom could save me. Following the initial period of apartment-hunting, university locating and general settling in my confidence with Spanish, my self grew as did my agenda Española. The city became a list of endless opportunities. Being a very cosmopolitan city, Barcelona is filled with streets that are bustling with a large number of ex-pats, tourists and fellow Erasmus students. Nevertheless, this has neither tarnished nor diminished the strong Catalan culture that infuses the region. Having travelled extensively in Spain before my year abroad, I was aware of the traditions of different regions, particularly the fervent nationalism that País Vasco is known for. I believed Cataluña’s fame to emanate from the grand peaks of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the deformed depictions of Dali and, more recently, from its position as a business hub of Spain following the birth of Catalan multinationals such as Clickair, Vueling and Mango. Yet, as I was soon to learn, Cataluña is also passionately nationalistic with its own language to learn, fiestas to attend, patrons to worship and traditions to practise – one for almost every day. Le Mercé marked my first encounter with Catalan traditions; countless circles of Catalans dancing Sardanes, continuous firework spectacles and the fusions of music styles as each street was turned into a stage. Less than a week had passed, and as my eyes were opening to the richness and vibrancy of the people and the culture, my heart was simultaneously opening to my second home. Second to the location of any new home are the people and the friendships you make. University classes functioned equally well socially and academically; through classes, my knowledge of the language improved and opportunities opened up to practise with fellow classmates, who were

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either Spanish or an exchange student like myself, with whom I made true and lasting friendships. As a political science student, I had courses that varied slightly from those in London, yet these new courses in philosophy and geography at the Universitat de Barcelona provided new angles to my dissertation research. Furthermore I was able to pursue humanities courses unavailable at UCL, which focused on the Spanish economy, geography and politics. Exposure to Spanish academic journals opened avenues of research into the field of NGOs. Researching for my dissertation led me to discover Club de Madrid, an important Madrid-based NGO. Through correspondence with them I became aware of, and was subsequently invited to, a conference related to globalisation and immigration at Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Santander. This two-day conference brought me in contact with influential figures in politics. Of particular interest was the ex-President of Cape Verde, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, whose country’s recent immigration agreement with the EU I am researching for my dissertation. The conference has not only provided me with further lines of enquiry for my dissertation but also with contacts for future work in this field. As the academic side of Erasmus was drawing to a close and friends were making plans for work in their home cities, I knew that my job prospects for the summer were to be found in Barcelona. Spanish friends had made me aware of the cliquey nature of Spanish business; to work in a business enchufes (contacts) were a must and despite the endless opportunities the city had to offer, I realised I needed to do some groundwork. The stereotypical English-teacher roles were abundant but I wanted something to challenge me linguistically and personally. Following a speculative email to a financial firm enquiring about internship opportunities, I was invited for an interview at a new business start-up in the heart of the city and succeeded in securing a three month placement at Gild International. Joining the company in the early stages allowed me to leave my own mark on the company through designing and implementing the front desk operating procedures, and brought me in contact with a multitude of business areas. Promoting Gild at ifest ’08 [a conference for international business and enterprise held in Barcelona] provided me with a snapshot of the diverse fabric that makes Cataluña so visually vibrant and socially alive; the industries, nationalities, cultures and events, the fibres that proudly weave the red and gold bars of the Catalonian flag make me want to return. The Erasmus experience has definitely made a positive contribution academically, professionally and personally. That is not to say it came easily. The options available to me during my year abroad were not handed to me but were the result of maintaining an open mind and attitude, an eagerness to experience the culture, determination to develop and hard work. Looking back fondly on my time in Barcelona, the only regret I have are of those few wasted moments in the early days when I anticipated my return home in a similar way as I now anxiously await my return to Barcelona. I wish I had instead spent it wandering down via laietana, surrounded by the now familiar flurry of café tables and chairs with the mountains at my back and the sapphire shores drawing me forward to the clear waters and warm sea air; this is the secret to longevity, the Catalans say – along with a bottle of sun cream. If this be so, Vivan los catalanes, Viva España y Viva Erasmus. Emma Kelly, 2009, BA European Social and Political Studies

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Erasmus Placement – Bologna I consider my Erasmus placement in Bologna to have been both an academically rewarding experience as well as a socially and culturally rewarding one. I feel I have returned a more confident person with a greater belief in my own ability to adapt to new and different environments. When I first arrived in Bologna, I was immediately faced with the prospect of acquiring accommodation with very little Italian. Fortunately, with the help of the University Accomodation Service I managed to sort out a flat on my second day and was thus prepared to start the intensive Italian language course provided by the university. The course required me to attend lessons each day which focussed primarily on improving one’s spoken Italian as well as working on reading and writing skills. I felt that the course was certainly worthwhile as it provided me with the opportunity to prepare myself for regularly speaking Italian as well as enabling me to meet a lot of other Erasmus students. On this course I met some of the students who I would become good friends with throughout the year. Once the language course finished, I had to enrol at university and choose my courses for the first term. It was a daunting prospect as I did not know anyone in my lectures and was initially quite nervous in approaching Italian students. However, I forced myself to speak to other students (with frequent apologies for my broken Italian), and became particularly good friends with a girl with whom I took one of my couses. I am incredibly glad that I made a point of speaking to her that day as since then I have visited and stayed with her family in Parma and now that I am back in England we email regularly – a very useful way for me to practice my written Italian. I enjoyed all of the courses I took, as although initially I understood very little of what was going on, by Christmas I had noticed a huge progression in my Italian comprehension. Persisting at university as well as living with Italians helped me feel more at ease and I certainly gained confidence in speaking to other students. At the beginning of December I started tutoring an Italian woman and her son in English which was an extremely useful way for me to improve my Italian further, as well as providing a useful bit of extra cash – Bologna is certainly not the cheapest city to live in! On the social side, the University of Bologna has two Erasmus organisations, AEGEE and ESN. Both of these are run by Italian former Erasmus students who organise cultural events/trips and parties. When I first arrived in Bologna they set up many welcome meetings which proved to be useful opportunities to meet other Erasmus students. Throughout the first term I took part in wine tasting and Italian cooking courses, organised ice skating and ski trips and Italian film evenings. I also signed up to a ‘tandem’ course, which sets Erasmus students up with an Italian student wishing to learn their native language and thus giving both of you the opportunity to improve your foreign language skills. I found this scheme extremely valuable and am now in the process of trying to set up something similar at UCL. Returning home for the Christmas break was a very enjoyable but slightly strange aspect as having been abroad for almost four solid months, I had become very accustomed to living by myself and the independence was so much greater than I had previously felt in London. I am extremely glad that I did not choose to return home at any point during the first term as I think it

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would have hindered me from really becoming settled in Bologna and adapting to the way of life there. I must admit that I found the first week or two back in Italy after the Christmas break quite hard going (not helped by the constant rain), but I stuck with it and made sure I saw friends regularly and kept myself busy, using my free time before university reopened to get stuck into the work I had to do for my home university. As there was a more limited range of courses available during my second term, I found myself with a lot more free time. However, I used this opportunity to focus more on improving my Italian and I certainly noticed how my language skills developed, particularly my spoken Italian. I continued to attend cultural/social events organised by the Erasmus societies and was lucky enough to go skiing for a second time and learn how to cook tortellini. In April I stayed with my Italian friend Anna and her family in Parma – this proved to be a useful test of my language skills and I felt really pleased to have survived a few days exclusively in Italian company. I also used my free time to visit as much of Italy as I could, travelling with a friend to southern Italy to explore Alberobello, Lecce and the Tremeti islands, as well as making frequent trips with my group of fellow English Erasmus students to nearby cities and towns, including Ravenna, Venice and Florence. Throughout my second term I continued to tutor English to the woman and her son and I acquired another student. Furthermore I was contacted by my tutor at the university and asked if I would be interested in helping a colleague of hers who was looking for someone to practise their English with. I agreed and consequently each week I was invited to have dinner with Stefano, a lecturer in geology and his family during which we would spend some of the evening speaking English and some Italian. It was a great way to meet more Italians and have the wonderful experience of proper Italian home cooking. All in all it has been a fantastic experience and although at times it wasn’t necessarily easy – for example the university system can be incredibly confusing and disorganised, I would certainly recommend the Erasmus exchange, particularly in Bologna, as it has been of such a huge benefit to me. I was lucky enough to have been put in contact with a student from UCL who had previously done an Erasmus placement in Bologna and was therefore able to answer any questions I had. I would certainly recommend trying to speak to a former Erasmus student as there is a lot to prepare for when taking a year abroad and any tips and advice can prove extremely useful. Furthermore, I make enquiries with the University Accomodation Service SAIS before you leave for Italy and book an appointment for as soon as possible upon your arrival in Bologna. By Emma Kislingbury

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Information sheets for students Information sheet 1: Benefits of studying abroad Studying abroad can be an excellent experience and result in significant personal development as well as making you more employable. There are however still some barriers to studying abroad that impact on your experience. The key question is whether your time spent studying abroad will be recognised as an integral part of your qualification and credits given on an equivalent basis to the institution that you study in the UK – so make sure you ask your university about this. Some students have concerns about the financial impact of studying abroad. Erasmus students receive an additional grant (given that after Norway the UK is the most expensive country in Europe according to the European Commission’s cost of living index, it may even be cheaper to spend a year on Erasmus than remain in the UK). UK students studying on Erasmus are able to apply for all of the same financial support they would be eligible for whilst studying in the UK. If you study for part of the year you would pay a portion of your tuition fees (if you currently pay them) to your home institution as opposed to paying them in the host country, but if you go for a full academic year you wouldn’t have to pay any fees to your home institution. A common fear amongst students is that they may lose their part-time jobs in UK whilst studying abroad. The British Council, the National Agency for the Erasmus programme in the UK, and their Erasmus website www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus, highlights ten reasons to take part:

• stand out in the job market – a great addition to your CV • return more motivated, independent and confident • get a grant and have your tuition fees waived (if you go for the full academic year) • it counts towards your degree – it’s not a gap year • learn a range of life skills not taught in the lecture theatre • access a wider range of subject areas than in the UK • improve your language skills • gain an international network of friends and potentially meet your lifelong partner! (one in ten students do) • discover a different culture and gain an international perspective • it’s really good fun! What questions should you ask if considering studying abroad?

• Does my course offer opportunities to study abroad? • Would the academic credits I earn during my study abroad period be recognised as part of my degree or on my academic transcript? • Do they teach the course I want to study in English or are language courses provided before I leave? • Are there other students at my university studying in the same country or at the same university? • Speak to your University’s Europe Office about how you can get in touch with them.

Why study abroad? Education Studying abroad will enrich your academic knowledge and skills. You experience different learning and teaching styles and use different course materials. You will of course have the opportunity to practise another language or even learn a new language! Studying abroad is about learning more and with a

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different perspective about your discipline, but also about the world outside the classroom. By living abroad, you acquire non-academic skills and knowledge: you learn about other cultures and people, and develop skills that will be invaluable in your academic and professional life. In other words, studying abroad in another country is about learning more and better, and becoming a discerning global citizen. Employment When you study and live abroad, you develop skills that are very much sought-after by employers: organisation, adaptability, confidence, self-reliance and open-mindedness. Overall, you become a wellrounded person who can prove they can face new and challenging situations in a constructive way. If you study abroad, you become more employable at home and abroad because you will have developed skills beyond technical knowledge in a specific subject. The job market nowadays is an international one, so when you graduate, not only will you be competing with UK graduates, but also with highly-qualified graduates from other countries. In this multi-cultural, multi-lingual European job market, the ability to communicate in another language is highly desirable; and demonstrating that you have lived, studied and worked in another environment enables you to compete more effectively. Developing self-assurance and independence are the keys to a successful career. As less than 5 per cent of the student population participates in Erasmus – you’ll stand out and employers will notice you. “Employers are looking for more than just technical skills and knowledge of a degree discipline. They particularly value skills such as communication, team-working and problem-solving. Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage.” Digby Jones, Former Director-General, Confederation of British Industry “The value of [a student’s] international experience goes beyond purely the acquisition of language – it lies in the ability to see business and personal issues from other than your own cultural perspective.” Charles Macleod, Head of UK Resourcing, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Enjoyment Living abroad is also about having the time of your life! It is always an unforgettable experience: you make new friends and live a different life full of discoveries. Not only will you acquire a broader range of skills to offer a future employer, but you’ll have fun doing it. Erasmus students say it is the best part of their time at university, after all nearly one in ten find their life partner while doing their Erasmus programme. “I simply cannot put a price on what I gained from this year. I have not only developed in a huge way as a person but also had so much fun, made lots of friends, found a very fun and interesting job, improved my communication skills greatly, immersed myself completely into the German culture and had the good feeling of having worked hard at the same time. It really is true that you grow up living on your own in a foreign country.” Cameron MacInnes, Business Studies, University of Strathclyde/University Manheim, Germany If you want to know more about amazing experiences former Erasmus students had, visit the Erasmus 20th anniversary website: http://www.20erasmus.eu/experiences/browse

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Information sheet 2: How does it work? Studying in another European country is logistically easier than going to other continents, and therefore usually cheaper. You can very easily get financial and administrative support, so don’t let financial considerations put you off! This is a brief list of support programmes that you can look into – your university might offer other exchange programmes.

Erasmus Erasmus is the most popular and successful European Union funding programme. Thanks to the Erasmus exchange programme, you can spend from three months up to a year in one of the 30 other European participating countries and obtain a grant for it. This grant, which you will receive on top of your grant or loan that you might already have, is meant to cover some of your living costs. If you study for part of the year you would pay a portion of your tuition fees (if you currently pay them) to your home institution as opposed to paying them in the host country, but if you go for a full academic year you won’t have to pay any fees to your home institution. To be eligible for an Erasmus exchange, you need to be registered as a full-time or part-time student (second year and above, although work placements are eligible in the first year), at a university that has been awarded the Erasmus University Charter. You also need to be a national of a participating country or recognised as a UK resident or as a refugee or stateless person. With Erasmus, you can also do a work placement or work as a language assistant. For more information on the programme, you can visit the website of British Council, which is the UK national agency for Erasmus: http://www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus-student-programmes.htm If you want to know which universities you can go to, get in touch with the Erasmus coordinator of your department and with the International or European office at your university to see what exchange agreements they have with the Erasmus partner countries. Erasmus participating countries Austria

Greece

Netherlands

Belgium

Hungary

Norway

Bulgaria

Iceland

Poland

Cyprus

Ireland

Portugal

Czech Republic

Italy

Romania

Denmark

Latvia

Slovakia

Estonia

Liechtenstein

Slovenia

Finland

Lithuania

Spain

France

Luxembourg

Sweden

Germany

Malta

Turkey

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Erasmus Mundus Erasmus Mundus aims to promote European higher education, to help improve and enhance the career prospects of students and to promote intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries and to contribute to the sustainable development of third countries in the field of higher education. Action 1 provides: Support for high-quality joint masters courses (Action 1 A) and doctoral programmes (Action 1 B) offered by a consortium of European and possibly third country HEIs. Scholarships/fellowships for the third country and European students/doctoral candidates to follow these Erasmus Mundus joint masters courses and doctoral programmes. Short-term scholarships for third country and European academics to carry out research or teaching assignments as part of the joint masters programmes. Action 2 provides: Support for the establishment of cooperation partnerships between European HEIs and HEIs from targeted third countries with the objective of organising and implementing structured individual mobility between the European and the third country partners. Scholarships of various length for European and third country individuals (students, scholars, researchers, professionals). The ability to award scholarships to European individuals depends on the financial instrument used to fund the cooperation activities with the Third Country concerned. To apply for a scholarship, you need to contact the people in charge of the master course directly. For a list of courses, you can visit: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/mundus/projects/index_en.html For more information on the programme, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/mundus/index_en.html or read the brochure: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/mundus/doc/flyerscholar_en.pdf, or visit the British Council’s website: http://www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus-other.htm You can find some information on the Erasmus Mundus students and alumni’s website: http://www.em-a.eu/ For information on insurance: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/mundus/student/insurance_en.html For information on visas: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/mundus/student/insurance_en.html Erasmus Mundus participating countries 27 European Union Member States The 3 EEA-EFTA states (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) The candidate countries for accession to the EU (Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Turkey) Non-European partner countries

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Joint degrees Joint degrees are degree programmes developed and approved jointly by several institutions from different European countries. Therefore, the studying and exams passed in the given institutions are recognised by the other partner institutions and countries. Students from participating institutions spend part of the programme in the other partner institutions. To find out more about Joint degrees in your institution, talk about it to your teachers, course director and to the International Office of your university.

Other questions Do I need a student visa? If you are a British citizen, you have European citizenship. Therefore, as a general rule, you do not need a student visa to study in another European Union Member State if you stay for up to three months. Beyond these three months, some countries require that you apply for a residence permit. Other countries might require you to have a visa or a permit. Rules and procedures will vary from country to country, so seek advice from the International/European Office of your institution. Do I have to look for my own accommodation? It is your responsibility to look for your accommodation. You can decide to stay in student halls, in which case you need to seek information and advice from your home and host institutions. You can also decide to look for a different type of accommodation, in which case you need to look at national websites or seek advice from the host institution as to the best way to look for non-university accommodation. This is a decision you need to make yourself by bearing in mind the pros and cons of living in student halls or not. It is up to you to decide what is the best way for you to make the most of your stay in a comfortable manner. You can contact other Erasmus students in your university through the Erasmus or International Society if there is one, or by contacting the Erasmus Students’ Network (ESN) to get some practical advice from people who have already been there (ESN in the UK: www.esn-uk.co.uk) Do I need a special insurance? You also need to think about getting an extra insurance to cover any accidents, additional medical cover, loss of money, passport, or baggage loss. Some companies, such as Endsleigh Insurance, offer special packages for students undertaking study periods and placements abroad. Shop around and contact your International/European Office as sometimes universities propose insurances. Whether you merely travel or study in another European country, it is essential that you have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It replaces the old E111 form. You can apply for it electronically at https://www.ehic.org.uk or by phone at 0845 606 2030. The EHIC card provides students with access to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment that becomes necessary during a temporary visit to most European countries. It will cover for state-provided treatment only. It may also be a standard prerequisite of travel insurance and a condition of application to an institution.

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You can find more information on healthcare abroad by visiting the Department of Health website: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Healthcare/Healthadvicefortravellers/Gettingtreatmentaroundtheworld/index.htm If you are on any sort of medication, make sure you visit your doctor to discuss your stay abroad and seek advice about your stay. Countries where you can use the EHIC Austria

Hungary

Norway

Belgium

Iceland

Poland

Cyprus (not North Cyprus)

Ireland

Portugal

Czech Republic

Italy

Slovakia

Denmark

Latvia

Slovenia

Estonia

Liechtenstein

Spain

Finland

Lithuania

Sweden

France

Luxembourg

Switzerland

Germany

Malta

Greece

Netherlands

Academic regulations Once you have arrived at your university you should check out the local assessment regulations such as those on resits, plagiarism etc.

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Information sheet 3: Can I study abroad if I have a disability? In principle, nothing prevents you from studying abroad if you have a disability or special needs. On the contrary, you might be entitled to extra financial support from Erasmus for example. Students who need to apply for a special needs allowance should do so through their home university before the start of the academic year of their stay abroad. You need to ensure that the Erasmus coordinator of your department is aware of your situation and provides you with further details as they are responsible for ensuring all the necessary paperwork is completed and arrangements are made at the host institution. You can also seek more information from your International/European Office. For general information, you can visit the following websites: The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education: www.european-agency.org SKILL (National Bureau for Students with disabilities): www.skill.org.uk Foreign and Commonwealth Office, disabled travellers section: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/ta-relevant-to-you/disabled-travellers

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Information sheet 4: Funding The cost of studying abroad Some students might think that studying abroad is financially prohibitive. This is not necessarily true if you study in another European country. First of all, the UK is quite expensive compared to other European countries, so the cost of living will be cheaper in a lot of countries. Secondly, you are entitled to financial support in most cases when you study abroad. A lot of countries also have a variety of discounts when you are a student. So don’t be put off by money – your time abroad might end up being cheaper than in the UK! What financial support can I get? You can find financial support through exchange programmes like Erasmus, but also through other sources. As previously noted, as an Erasmus student you can get a grant on top of the loan or grant you already have obtained, or are about to obtain. This grant is usually given in two different allocations. This grant is non-repayable, and you don’t have to pay any tuition fee to your host institution if you are not there for the whole academic year. Would I be able to work? Hopefully, you will receive enough financial support that you shouldn’t need to look for part-time jobs to cover the costs of your living abroad. However, if you need to look for a job, you should be able to work without any special permit in other EU countries if you are an EU citizen. Again, this is a general rule and some countries might apply specific rules, so double-check! In order to get country specific information about working, you can consult the European Job Mobility Portal, EURES: http://ec.europa.eu/eures/home.jsp?lang=en Your Erasmus coordinator and International/European Office should also be able to provide you guidance. Former Erasmus students and foreign students coming from your destination country should also be able to give you some advice. Would I be able to open a bank account in the host country? If you have a Visa, Maestro or Mastercard debit or credit card, you will be likely to use it when abroad. Make sure this is possible by contacting your bank, and double-check how much the various charges are. If you are staying for more than six months, you might want to consider opening a bank account in your destination country as in the long term, you might lose out with the exchange rate and commission. If you want to open a bank account, you will usually need to provide documentation such as a proof of identity (passport), proof of residence, student ID card, and other documentation the bank might require. This is a general rule that will differ from country to country. Don’t hesitate to contact your home and host institutions for practical advice before you go.

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Information sheet 5: Recognition of study Do I get course credit for my time away? Thanks to the implementation of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), your studying abroad as an Erasmus student is automatically recognised. The European Credit Transfer System is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme, objectives preferably specified in terms of the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired. ECTS was introduced in 1989, within the framework of Erasmus, and is the only credit system which has been successfully tested and used across Europe. Its full implementation is one of the goals of the Bologna Process, which aims to create a European Higher Education Area with 46 countries. Moreover, thanks to the implementation of the three-cycle system (bachelor, master, doctorate) in a lot of European countries, it is easier to get your degrees recognised when you study or live abroad. How do I ensure my achievements are recognised? If you take part in an Erasmus exchange, you need to ensure you get your ECTS Learning Agreement in place with your Erasmus coordinator. To see what an ECTS Learning Agreement looks like: ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/socrates/ects/doc/form2.doc In the framework of the Bologna Process, universities are also asked to provide the Diploma Supplement for free to all students. The Diploma Supplement is an extra document added to higher education diplomas for use in an international context. The university registry is responsible for issuing the Diploma Supplement. To see a Diploma Supplement template, you can visit the Europass website: http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/europass/home/vernav/InformationOn/EuropassDiplomaSupplemen t/navigate.action If you want your language skills recognised or ‘recorded’ on paper before you go or when you come back, you can also use the Europass Language Passport. It is a document in which you report your language skills. You can create it online on the Europass website: http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/europass/home/vernav/Europasss+Documents/Europass+Languag e+Passport/navigate.action Finally, you can also use the Europass Mobility document, which has to be filled in by the home and host institutions: http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/europass/home/vernav/InformationOn/EuropassMobility/navigate.action In any case, your experience will be recognised thanks to the different recognition tools in place, so your time abroad will not be a waste of time!

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Information sheet 6: Languages Do I need to speak another language? Speaking the language of the country you will go to will obviously be an asset, as you will need to speak it to socialise and get by in your daily life. Living abroad will clearly help you improve the language skills you might already have. However, you don’t need to be a language student to be able to study abroad, and many countries do offer their courses in English. If you are not bilingual, do not be put off! Just check which language the courses will be taught in when you investigate your options with your Erasmus coordinator. Does it matter what course I’m studying? If you want to do an Erasmus exchange, it doesn’t matter what course you’re studying at all. The programme is open to students from all disciplines, and not from languages only. Can I get help to learn the language? If you are not a language student, there is usually financial support for you to take language classes. Contact your International/European Office for more information. If you are planning to study in a country whose language is not commonly taught, you can apply for a fully sponsored Erasmus Intensive Language Course (EILC) that will be delivered at the host country. For more information on EILC, please visit http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/llp/erasmus/eilc/index_en.html

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Information for students’ unions: Bologna Process Bologna Process timeline Sorbonne Declaration 1998 • This was the first step in agreeing that European higher education systems should be coherent and compatible. • Four countries: UK, France, Italy and Germany. Bologna Declaration 1999 • Thirty higher education ministers of HE signed the declaration to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA). • The EHEA aims to create a competitive higher education zone, encouraging mobility of students, graduates, academics. Ministerial summits every two years • Prague 2001, Berlin 2003, Bergen 2005, London 2007, Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve 2009, Budapest/Vienna 2010. Prague 2001 – Students (represented by the European Students’ Union) and Universities (represented by the European Universities Association (EUA) and European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)) officially brought into the process. Berlin 2003 – Brought together EHEA and European Research Area. Bergen 2005 – European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance adopted. 2008 – European Quality Assurance Register created.

What is Bologna? Apart from being a beautiful city in Northern Italy and home to the first university in Europe, established in 1088, it is also the shorthand for the process of creating a European Higher Education Area. 30 ministers of education from 29 European countries (including the ministers from both Flanders and the French speaking community in Belgium) gathered and signed the ‘Bologna Declaration’ in 1999, calling for the creation of a European Higher Education Area by 2010. The declaration emphasised this “as a key way to promote citizens' mobility and employability and the Continent's overall development.” This would be achieved through "harmonising the architecture of the European Higher Education system", including developing “easily readable and comparable degrees”, “adoption of a two cycle system” and “establishment of a system of credits”.

Keeping Bologna on track… Unusually the Bologna Process is a non-binding inter-governmental process that countries voluntarily sign up to. Due to the non-legal binding nature of the process it is important to keep track of progress. Every second year, the ministers from the signatory countries meet and discuss the advances, decide on new action lines and adopt new countries. The most recent meeting was held in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium 28–29 April 2009.

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As of the London Ministerial Summit there are 46 signatories to the process including all of the EU Member States as well as, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Holy See, Iceland, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. The European Higher Education Area is open to countries outside of EU membership because higher education is not an EU competence, ie the European Community has no authority over higher education in its member states.

European Students’ Union The European Students' Union (ESU) is the umbrella organisation of 49 National Unions of Students (NUS) from 38 countries. The aim of ESU is to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at the European level towards all relevant bodies, and in particular the EU, Bologna Follow Up Group, Council of Europe and UNESCO. NUS UK is an active member of ESU. ESU works to bring together, resource, train and inform national student representatives on policy developments in higher education at the European level. Since decisions concerning higher education are increasingly taken at the European level, ESU's role as the only European-wide student platform is similarly growing. Their work centres around supporting NUS members through organising seminars, training, campaigns and conferences relevant to students, conducting European-wide research, partnership projects and campaigns, providing information services and producing a variety of publications for both students, policy-makers and higher education professionals. ESU has been central to the Bologna Process since becoming consultative members in 2001. This engagement has resulted in the shift of emphasis away from the competitive nature of the process towards the ‘social dimension’ of higher education, promoting HE as a ‘public good’ and emphasising the importance of mobility of students, graduates and academics.

Bologna Action lines:

• adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees • adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles • establishment of a system of credits • promotion of mobility • promotion of European cooperation in quality assurance • promotion of the European dimensions in higher education • lifelong learning • higher education institutions and students • promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area • European Higher Education Area and European Research Area

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Countries that are signatories to the Bologna Declaration: Albania

Estonia

Latvia

Russian Federation

Andorra

Finland

Liechtenstein

Serbia

Armenia

Macedonia

Lithuania

Slovak Republic

Austria

France

Luxembourg

Slovenia

Azerbaijan

Georgia

Malta

Spain

Belgium

Germany

Moldova

Sweden

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Greece

Montenegro

Switzerland

Bulgaria

Holy See

Netherlands

Turkey

Croatia

Hungary

Norway

Ukraine

Cyprus

Iceland

Poland

United Kingdom

Czech Republic

Ireland

Portugal

Denmark

Italy

Romania

European Quality Assurance Register

• EQAR was founded by European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), European Students’ Union (ESU), European University Association (EUA) and European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE) to increase the transparency of quality assurance in higher education across Europe The register is expected to:

• promote student mobility by providing a basis for the increase of trust among higher education institutions • reduce opportunities for “accreditation mills” to gain credibility • provide a basis for governments to authorise higher education institutions to choose any agency from the Register, if that is compatible with national arrangements. Website: www.eqar.eu

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Diploma Supplement In terms of the impact on students one of the key initiatives resulting from the Bologna Process was the establishment of the ‘Diploma Supplement’. This consists of an academic transcript, programme/course information, and the description of the national framework and is a useful tool to enable recognition of qualifications in other parts of Europe. Ministers committed to ensuring that it would be issued to all students automatically at the end of their qualification free of charge. There is still much evidence that this is not happening.

Do you issue a Diploma Supplement (DS) to all students completing a programme? Yes 29.8%

No 70.2%

Results: Yes 39 (29.8%) No 70.2% (this includes HEIs that issue it to some students or not at all) Source: HEFCE 2009

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UK Team of Bologna Experts

• 14 experts from across the UK, including specialists in ECTS, Diploma Supplement, quality • Provide information for institutions and students’ unions • Visits and support for Erasmus coordinators List of experts Listed below is the team of UK Bologna Experts for 2009 –2011. The British Council administers the new team, whose role it is to assist UK higher education institutions’ implementation of the Bologna Process reforms. There are 14 Bologna Experts in total. They are:

• M. Morgane Artacho, Development Advisor – SPARQS (Student Participation in Quality Scotland – NUS Scotland) • Prof Tim Birtwistle, ECTS and Diploma Supplement Counsellor, Professor of Law and Policy of Higher Education, Jean Monnet Chair, Leeds Law School, Leeds Metropolitan University • Mr Alex Bols, Head of Education and Quality, NUS • Mr Andy Gibbs, School Director of International Developments NMSC, Edinburgh Napier University • Prof Alan Davidson, Dean, Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment, The Robert Gordon University • Mrs Anne Davies, Head of International Programmes, School of Management, Queen’s University Belfast • Dr Nick Harris, Higher Education Expert • Mr Huw Landeg Morris, Academic Registrar, Swansea University • Mr John Reilly, ECTS and Diploma Supplement Counsellor, Higher Education Expert • Dr Graeme Roberts, Senior Associate, Higher Education Academy • Mr Simon Sweeney, Senior Lecturer in International Business and Governance, Sheffield Hallam University • Dr Anthony Vickers, ECTS and Diploma Supplement Counsellor, Reader, The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, The University of Essex Student UK Bologna Experts 2009 – 2010

• Mr Guy Bromley, Student – The University of Edinburgh • Mr Mohammed Surve, Student – London School of Economics If you would like a Bologna Expert to visit your institution or students’ union please contact: Irene.Aves@britishcouncil.org

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Briefing for SUs (EHEArea) print

National Union of Students 2nd Floor, Centro 3 19 Mandela Street London NW1 0DU t. 0871 221 8221 f. 0871 221 8222 w. www.nus.org.uk Produced by NUS 01/2010

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Students studying abroad and the European Higher Education Area - Briefing for students’ unions