Higher Education and Research

Academic mobility

Facilitating and increasing academic mobility (students, teaching, research and administrative staff) is one of the main action lines of the Bologna Process.

Apart from asking for introduction of ECTS to facilitate mobility, the Bologna Declaration also states the following goal:

“ … Promotion of mobility by overcoming obstacles to the effective exercise of free movement with particular attention to:

  • - for students, access to study and training opportunities and to related services
  • - for teachers, researchers and administrative staff, recognition and valorisation of periods spent in a European context researching, teaching and training, without prejudicing their statutory rights. …

Between the Bologna and the Prague Ministerial Summits, the European Union adopted the Action Plan on Mobility, which is referred to in the Prague Communiqué:

“ … Ministers reaffirmed that the objective of improving the mobility of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff as set out in the Bologna Declaration is of the utmost importance. Therefore, they confirmed their commitment to pursue the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff and emphasized the social dimension of mobility. They took note of the possibilities for mobility offered by the European Community programmes and the progress achieved in this field, e.g. in launching the Mobility Action Plan endorsed by the European Council in Nice in 2000. … “

The Berlin Communiqué stressed also other dimensions of mobility (social, cultural etc):

“… Mobility of students and academic and administrative staff is the basis for establishing a European Higher Education Area. Ministers emphasise its importance for academic and cultural as well as political, social and economic spheres. They note with satisfaction that since their last meeting, mobility figures have increased, thanks also to the substantial support of the European Union programmes, and agree to undertake the necessary steps to improve the quality and coverage of statistical data on student mobility.
They reaffirm their intention to make every effort to remove all obstacles to mobility within the European Higher Education Area. With a view to promoting student mobility, Ministers will take the necessary steps to enable the portability of national loans and grants. … “

The issue of mobility is complex and diverse and the implementation of many of the Bologna Process action lines will have a significant impact on the level of mobility. Some of the related issues are: recognition of degrees and the Diploma Supplement, ECTS, the social dimension of the Bologna process, transnational education, the European Research Area, the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area and its European dimension.

Council of Europe’s Council of Ministers adopted a Recommendation on regional academic mobility in 1996, which was preceeded by a Recommendation on academic mobility (1995). In 1995, the Council of Ministers adopted also a Recommendation on the problem of brain drain.

When it comes to brain drain, it is worth mentioning that WUS Austria has started a special programme on this issue.

European Union has several programmes for academic mobility and international cooperation in higher education. These are:

Apart from the intergovernmental mobility programmes, higher education institutions are also cooperating amongst themselves. One example is the Campus Europae, network of 12 universities from 11 countries in Europe.

ESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe in 2003 organised a European Student Convention in Athens on the topic “How to achieve genuine student mobility?” The convention was followed by a Communiqué and a policy paper on mobility which was adopted by the ESIB Board in May 2003.

We also recommend you to read an article by Mr. Andris Barblan on “Academic co-operation and mobility in Europe: how it was, how it should be”.