european students’ union

Mobility and Internationalisation

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The current stagnation of strategic planning during a time of exponential growth in internationalisation is fundamentally unacceptable and irresponsible. Students have not seen much progress in mobility since 2012, and the prevailing obstacles to engaging in mobility largely remain the same. Financing has been and remains a key issue in mobility and internationalisation, and a barrier to solving many on the known obstacles. These long-lasting obstacles have created an Europe with unbalanced mobility, both in a geographical and social sense. Constant imbalances in mobility are likely to have a long-lasting negative effect and increase the brain-drain from certain European areas.

Students from marginalized groups, in all the meanings of that phrase, are less likely to engage in and benefit from mobility – our research has highlighted several issues relating to this. Special attention must be paid to those who have so far been left behind by the internationalisation in higher education. In future research, special attention should be paid in regards to collecting data relating to marginalized students and students with disabilities – this includes the upcoming ‘Bologna With Student Eyes’ surveys.

Internationalisation, although a key feature in the development of higher education in Europe, seems to also have taken a back seat.  Language learning opportunities for both international and local students has declined since 2015. Similarly, insufficient attention has been paid to the language skills of both academic and non-academic staff at HEIs. Despite the growing number of international students in Europe, taking their needs into account has not kept up with the quantitative progress. International students must be seen as an opportunity, not as potential cash-cows for European HEIs. This means, that the needs of students in or looking to engage in international mobility must be seen as important.

With the growing number of students from non-European countries, notably India and China, increasing in Europe, creating a reliable and student-friendly visa system in Europe is likely to become an important issue within the next period of the Bologna process. The Visa Directive and Schengen visa processes must take into account learners’ needs. To ensure increasing internationalisation, the global perspective must be taken into account.

The issue of Brexit is likely to change much about the conversations of increasing mobility and global internationalisation. Both NUS-UK and USI are extremely concerned about the effects of Brexit on the students of UK and Ireland. Students’ rights and education will need to be protected during Brexit negotiations.


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