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Stepping up study and internship abroad

– a strategy for enhanced outbound mobility in the academy profession and professional bachelor education programmes

3.1. International objectives for mobility

In international context, mobility has been on the agenda for many years as a key aspect of the internationalisation of higher education.

From the start, increased mobility has been one of the key objectives of the cooperation in the Bologna Process. The Bologna Process was initiated by the European ministers for education in 1999 with the goal to develop Europe into a common space for higher education where the students can move freely across the boundaries.

Already in the first declaration in 1999, it was a distinct objective to promote European mobility for students as well as for teachers, researchers, and administrative personnel by taking away obstacles to mobility.

Later on, it has also become a goal to promote the development of joint European courses of study and joint degrees, which will also contribute to further the mobility 7.

Quantitative objectives for mobility were established for the first time with the declaration from the latest Bologna Process ministerial meeting in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve in the spring of 2009. In 2020, at least 20% of the graduates within the European space of higher education shall have spent a study period or an internship abroad as a part of their education 8.

Also for the educational cooperation in EU, mobility has become an issue of ever increasing importance. In May of 2009, the ministers of education adopted a new strategy framework for European cooperation in education until 2020. With this strategy framework, the EU member states define common challenges and common goals for the education sphere in EU. The new strategy framework is an extension of the present framework that is in force for 2001-2010.

The strategy framework comprises four strategic goals one of which is ‘realisation of lifelong learning and mobility’. The realisation of the goals will be measured by common benchmarks. Some of these benchmarks have already been set whereas others are under development. Thus, with the new strategy framework, the first steps have been taken to develop a common European benchmark for mobility over the next couple of years beginning with focusing on physical mobility for higher education between countries.

Lately, the European Commission has adopted the Green Paper “Promoting the learning mobility of young people” in July of 2009. The purpose of the Green Paper is to open up the debate to stakeholders and the public about how to strengthen the opportunities for learning mobility of young people. The Commission regards learning mobility as a means that can contribute overall to building a knowledge intensive society, and that mobility therefore can contribute to strengthening Europe’s competitiveness and to realizing the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs.

The purpose of the Green Paper is to

  1. promote organised learning mobility,
  2. promote learning mobility between the countries currently participating in the EU programmes, while at the same time seek to develop exchanges with the wider world,
  3. promote boundary-crossing mobility between like institutions (schools, universities, enterprises, etc.) as well as mobility between different sectors, for example from an educational institution to an enterprise,
  4. focus on physical mobility while also recognising the value of virtual mobility.

7 The meeting of ministers in Bergen, 2005.

8 The 20% is an overall goal for the European space of higher education. The task of developing an indicator for the goal is a part of the work plan of the Bologna Process in the years to come.