Note: Speakers are still to be confirmed.
Conference Chairman Prof. Marcel Crochet General Rapporteur Florian Pecenka Keynote speakers Prof. Ulrich Teichler
Student mobility has been the major aim of the European higher education policy since the Bologna Declaration in 1999. For the last two decades, most of the action lines European countries have adopted and implemented (easily readable and comparable degrees, three-cycle structure, use of credit system and diploma supplement, cooperation in matters of quality assurance, etc.) have positively contributed to the European mobility policy. However, many challenges remain that we need to identify, explain, discuss and finally overcome.
This task requires a common understanding and/or consensus on the concept of student mobility. As many authors have shown, student mobility has changed since the Bologna Declaration especially the role of student mobility in the EHEA. Processes, conditions, objectives but also opportunities are multiple today and make it even more challenging to set up an efficient mobility policy at national and European level.
Furthermore, even if many agree on the progress made and the growth trend of student mobility inside the EHEA, figures and data are generally not sufficiently precise and are of poor quality to permit a clear statement on the developments of mobility in the EHEA. Therefore, mobility policy also implies statistical strategies to get a realistic picture of the current situation at both national and European levels.
Working Session 1 : Asymmetric Mobility
Session Chair Prof. Vincent Vandenberghe Stakeholders Dr. Christian Seiser
Mr. Luc Detroux
Dr. Rudolf Mallinger
Mr. Cédric Chevalier
Ms. Julia Straub
In the London Communiqué, Ministers – recalling the top-priority of mobility – encouraged a more equitably balanced [mobility] between countries in the EHEA. Many authors and stakeholders showed that flows of mobile students tend to be quite unbalanced depending on many factors i.e. attractiveness and reputation of HEIs, culture and languages, closer links between neighbouring countries, financial incentives for mobile students, etc.
In this context, access to higher education certainly plays a key role and leads to a particular challenge. On one hand, unrestricted access for foreign students increases mobility, but on the other, since national governments have exclusive competences in designing conditions and requirements for their own nationals, mobility offers new opportunities for those students to get round restrictions.
Countries concerned by “bypass” mobility have adopted instruments to tackle the issue but expose themselves to high risks of sanction by the European Commission for discrimination. Amongst these instruments, quotas are generally the easiest way of restricting the access of foreign free-movers in HEIs. But other options – more efficient, non-discriminating, mobility- and quality-enhancing – do exist.
Working Session 2 : Portability of grants and loans
Session Chair Dr. Hans Vossensteyn Stakeholders Mr. Aldrik in’t Hout
Ms. Johanna Wockatz
Ms. Kathleen Robertson
Ms. Miriam Craven
Ms. Anne-Claire Simon
Ms. Ketevan Chachava
In the process of democratization of higher education, European countries have designed and implemented student support systems so that today most students can theoretically apply for grants and/or loans. With the internationalization/Europeanization of higher education, new opportunities are offered to students to become more and more mobile. Amongst the conditions for meaningful student mobility, portability of grants and loans is essential.
Statistics show indeed that full portability remains an exception in Europe. Nordic countries are certainly the examples where there is a long tradition in supporting their nationals studying abroad. More recently, other countries/regions like Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland have taken steps to make grants and loans portable. Moreover, even in case of non-portable systems, there are still restrictions based on nationality (generally non-EU or non-Bologna students have no access to portable grants and loans) but also on the range, the duration, the conditions, etc.
From the governmental perspective, implementing portability of grants and loans is a tough task. It requires important legal reforms but also an administrative structure in governments and HEIs for supporting the day-to-day operations. Questions about information exchange on students arise since countries with portability are supposed to be able to follow their national students abroad.
Working Session 3 : Attractiveness of HEIs in the EHEA
Session Chair Prof. Pavel Zgaga Stakeholders Mr. Luca Juros
Prof. Marc Lobelle
Ms. Pascale Genbrugge
Mr. Matthew Tabone
Students become mobile when they can get added-value by studying abroad. Therefore, the attractiveness of HEIs and the EHEA is certainly a condition to student mobility. While the external dimension of the EHEA has been defined as a core objective of the Bologna process through the successive Communiqués and a strategy was adopted by Ministers in 2007, there has not been, so far, a clear statement on the meaning and the objectives of this strategy. Does the promotion of the external dimension of the EHEA mean the realization of all the following objectives: attractiveness, competitiveness and/or openness?
The Bologna process has aroused considerable interest in many parts of the world and Bologna-like reforms have recently appeared outside Europe. Despite the visibility, there are important misperceptions about the Bologna process and the EHEA which appear from discussions between European and international HE stakeholders.
At institutional level, attractiveness has forced HEIs to rethink their academic strategies regarding the curricula structure, the student mobility, the quality assurance, the reputation, etc. Because of the harmonisation of degree structures and the progressive elimination of obstacles to vertical mobility, HEIs are confronted both with new opportunities and challenges. The opportunity lies in broadening the geographical area for student recruitment from regional or national to a European or indeed worldwide recruitment area. The challenge consists in the fact that, subject to similar strategies of foreign HEIs, some of their current or prospective students might prefer to obtain a degree abroad, in particular at the Masters level.