Students and academics talk to Assembly Members about Erasmus programmes

On Thursday March 6, students and academics from Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University met with Assembly Members at Cardiff Metropolitan’s Cyncoed Campus to talk about their experiences of the Erasmus programme, which enables higher education students to study or work abroad as part of their degree and, staff to teach or train in 33 European countries:

The event is a part of an inquiry by the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee, which is looking at European funding opportunities from 2014 to 2020:

Erasmus programme

Inquiry into EU funding opportunities 2014-2020

A total of 19 people took part in the event, with participants split across five small roundtables, where they took part in focus groups run by Assembly Members. The main themes for questioning included:

–          What motivated students and staff to take part in an exchange programme, what their experience had been, and what impact it had on them personally and academically;

–          The benefits and barriers to encouraging more graduating students to study outside the UK for a period of their studies;

–          How Wales can better support the outward mobility of students and maximise opportunities from engagement in EU programmes like Erasmus.

Groups discussed for an hour, which lead to a feedback session where Assembly Members stood and spoke about the main points their group spoke about, which included:

–          Erasmus not only builds confidence and expands horizons, but it results in higher academic performance;

–          Erasmus and the opportunities it offers could be promoted more widely and earlier, say through schools with 14/15 year-olds and with parents;

–          There needs to be a more strategic and high-level commitment to driving forward engagement in Erasmus rather than leaving it up to individual pioneers;

–          There should be shorter, taster placements available before students embark on the full Erasmus exchange;

–          Staff mobility is important – this was described as an essential ingredient;

–          There needs to be a more robust approach to monitoring, bench-marking and evaluating the impacts of the programme at a Wales level;

The Committee was also impressed to hear what both Universities are currently undertaking in relation to Erasmus; Cardiff Metropolitan through work of its international department are the leading UK Higher Education Institution in terms of participations in Erasmus Mundus, and Cardiff University has set a target which would see 17% of its students participating in an exchange programme by 2017 which was seen as a positive move to give stronger priority to international mobility.

We spoke with Rhun ap Iorweth AM, Anna Dukes – Senior International Development Officer at Cardiff Metroploitan University, and Charlotte Walmsley – a student at Cardiff University immediately after the feedback session to get their take on what they thought about the event, and what they had been discussing in their group:

The information gathered from the event will help Assembly Members question representative bodies and organisations, including the Welsh Government who will meet the Committee throughout March, and will also influence a report which the Committee will produce later in the summer containing recommendations to the Welsh Government.

We would like to thank Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University for all their help in arranging the event, and for their contributions on the day.

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