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Want a threefold increase of student exchange in Europe

The EU commission wants to triple the number of exchange students at European universities over seven years. Student exchange may increase significantly, also at UiA.

Marthe Nordtug and Ragnhild Skålid during presentation, photo
THREEFOLD INCREASE: Student and teacher exchange in Europe will increase in the years to come. Counsellor for Research Marthe Nordtug and Counsellor for Education Ragnhild Skålid from Mission of Norway to the EU presented initiatives and plans in relation to Erasmus+.

“These are exciting thoughts. We are also part of the European education area, and we need to look at how to relate to that.”

Says Sunniva Whittaker, who is on a two-day study tour to Brussels, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, together with the vice rectors, deans, several department heads and research advisers – 36 people in all.

SPENNENDE: - Utviklingen er spennende. Også vi vil fokusere på student- og lærerutveksling i løpet av dette året, sier rektor Sunniva Whittaker, her sammen med viserektor for undervisning Morten Brekke.

“The development is exciting. We too want to focus on student and teacher exchange this year”, says Rector Sunniva Whittaker. Here with Vice Rector for Education Morten Brekke.

Want more EU projects at UiA

The purpose of this trip is to give inspiration, motivation and more knowledge and expertise about how UiA can increase its participation in EU projects for  education and research.

“International cooperation is necessary to develop excellent education and research communities”, Sunniva Whittaker says.

 “As long as the EU framework programmes provide opportunities for higher education and research cooperation both within and outside of Europe, we would like to know as much about them as we can. That is why we go on this study tour which I hope will make us all aware of the opportunities that exist, and perhaps start processes that will launch projects in the time to come”, she says.

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MER MOBILITET: Forskningsråd Marthe Nordtug og utdanningsråd Ragnhild Skålid fortalte at det vil bli mer mobilitet innen høyere utdanning i årene som kommer – i alle fall dersom dagens forslag for neste programperiode i EU blir vedtatt.

INCREASED MOBILITY: Counsellor for Research Marthe Nordtug and Counsellor for Education Ragnhild Skålid explained that there will be greater mobility within higher education in the years to come – at least if the proposal for the next programme period in the EU is adopted.

The budget triples for Erasmus+

In EU, the current Erasmus+ programme approaches its end in 2020. The European Commission has therefore started working on the next period, 2021-2027.

Plans to strengthen EU’s focus on integration and building a common culture are included, not least against the background of and as a counterweight to Brexit and the rise of nationalism in some member states.

In this perspective, higher education is seen both as a better way to social development, but also as a ‘European Common Good’ and something that is part of a common European culture.

“This also affects what is happening in higher education and research”, says Counsellor for Research Marthe Nordtug at the Mission of Norway to the EU. She met with the delegation from UiA on Tuesday, together with Counsellor for Education Ragnhild Skålid.

“This also applies to the wish to triple the activities in the Erasmus+ scheme. If it is adopted, the number of people who get to participate in the programme rises from 4.4 million in the current Erasmus+ period to 12 million in the next. Seen in the context of other goals, like learning two foreign languages in upper secondary school, there is little doubt that student and teacher mobility, and mobility among administrative staff in higher education, will increase in the time to come”, Ragnhild Skålid says.

Free flow of students and teachers

The counsellors for research and education at the Mission of Norway to the EU also touched on the initiative for future network universities in Europe, where Norwegian universities also are included.

The initiative is designed to form cross-border alliances of higher education institutions from across Europe to achieve free flow of students and teachers, where the goal is to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today and meet the need for knowledge in every European country and region.

The goal is to create at least 20 European Universities by the end of 2024, building a network of universities across Europe.

“If this becomes a reality, it is described as a paradigm shift in higher education. Not just in Europe, but all over the world”, Ragnhild Skålid says.

GODE RÅD: Nettverksbygging og personlig kontakt er også viktig. Her er forskningsdirektør Simone Katharina Heinz i samtale med scientific officer Thomas Schubert i EU-kommisjonen (midten) om Horisont Europa og viktigheten av delta i EU-forskning. EU-rådgiver Søren Kragholm (t.h.) ved Fakultet for teknologi og realfag følger med. Bak t.v. sitter instituttleder Carl Erik Moe ved Institutt for informasjonssystemer.

GOOD ADVICE: Networking and personal connections are also important. Here is Research Director Simone Katharina Heinz in conversation with scientific officer in the European Commission, Thomas Schubert (in the middle), about Horizon Europe and the importance of participating in EU research. On the right is EU-adviser at the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Søren Kragholm. In the back on the left is Head of Department Carl Erik Moe at the Department of Information Systems.

“Exciting initiative, also for UiA”

Rector Sunniva Whittaker thinks the ideas of increased student and teacher exchange and the network universities initiative are exciting. At UiA, 340 students are currently on exchange, and 256 foreign exchange students are studying at UiA.

“On our part, mobility is a topic we will deal with internally during this academic year. The government is drawing up a white paper on student mobility which will be presented in February next year, which will be about different forms of mobility like: Norwegian graduates abroad, foreign graduates in Norway, work placement mobility, short-term mobility, virtual mobility/exchange, and – not least – exchange mobility”, she says.

PÅ STUDIETUR: Dekaner og ledere ved UiA er på studietur til Brussel denne uka, for å lære mer om muligheter innen EUs utdannings- og forskningsprogram. Her fra første dag der de også møtte Tor Ivar Eikaaas ved Forskningsrådets Brusselkontor (t.h.) som fortalte om mulighetene i koblingen mellom forskning og utdanning sett fra Horisont 2020- og Horisont Europa-programmene.

ON STUDY TOUR: Deans and leaders at UiA are on a study tour to Brussels this week to learn more about the opportunities that exist in EU’s education and research programmes. Here, from the first day where they also met Tor Ivar Eikaas from the Research Council of Norway’s Brussels Office (on the right) who told about opportunities in the links between research and education seen from the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects.