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Combine Erasmus+ initiatives and gain broader stakeholder benefits

What are the tangible benefits of Erasmus+ projects and initiatives when developing higher education and international stakeholder collaboration?

Published : 13.12.2023

Rather than focusing on individual funding instruments or specific cooperation initiatives, it might be useful to adopt a strategic approach and purposefully combine multiple projects and different instruments to achieve higher-level benefits and broader impacts.

Advancing horizontal priorities with diverse Erasmus+ instruments

Using Erasmus+ projects and mobility to develop higher education policies, strategies, curricula, and pedagogy has proved to be both efficient and rewarding. However, an open-minded and robust approach to integrating multiple and diverse Erasmus+ initiatives could be beneficial to keep up with – and ahead of – our changing ecological, social, geopolitical, and economic conditions and ensuing challenges.

As it is, Erasmus+ collaboration between universities and industry stakeholders should promote shared horizontal priorities, such as active citizenship, inclusion and diversity, and digital and green transition. Skillfully combining various Erasmus+ initiatives can enhance the achievement of such broader strategic interests and goals.

In what follows, I will briefly discuss my personal experiences of developing not only curricula, pedagogy, and competences but also international stakeholder collaboration and interdisciplinary research initiatives that support public engagement, diversity and inclusion, and green and sustainable lifestyles. This development work was carried out through combining diverse Erasmus+ initiatives. Furthermore, the initiatives were integrated with several types of Erasmus+ instruments, such as KA2 Strategic and Cooperation Partnerships, KA2 Alliances for Innovation, KA3 Policy Experimentation, Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP), and short-term virtual and physical mobility for students, teachers, and staff.

Strategies, pedagogy, and skills for diverse cultural and professional contexts

During the past three years, interrelated Erasmus+ projects and mobility have enabled me to engage in the educational activities of dozens of higher education institutions from around Europe. Through the interconnected networks of these universities, I have had meaningful interactions with more than 100 European university partners and industry stakeholders – and the number is growing.

In terms of activities, I have been engaged in developing self-directed learning, engagement in virtual innovation and support networks, diversity and inclusion in teacher training, and digital collaboration for driving sustainable change across cultures and disciplines.

In practice, this has involved joint planning of strategic learning objectives and curricula, co-creation of pedagogical solutions for multi-stakeholder collaboration, and online team teaching at different universities. The teaching has included a wide variety of courses: intercultural communication, tourism marketing, CSR and business ethics, virtual teacher education, and English for specific purposes, to mention but a few.

By organizing inter-project experiments, mobility, workshops, and conferences among different partnerships and consortia, we have managed to discuss and disseminate the tools and results from individual projects and initiatives more widely and efficiently. It has been extremely insightful and satisfying to share experiences with colleagues who come from a wide array of professional backgrounds and projects – all developing strategies, pedagogy, and skills that contribute towards shared horizontal objectives.

Multidisciplinary research and innovation networks for higher education

Complementing inter-project activities with Blended Intensive Programs (BIP), virtual exchanges (VE), and short-term mobility for students, teachers, and staff has brought us more resources, giving us the chance to systematically gather, analyze, and discuss shared data on transversal competence developments. This, in turn, has opened up fertile ground for developing evidence-based policies and research-based pedagogical solutions to improve intercultural stakeholder collaboration.

In terms of research, development and innovation (RDI) activities, Erasmus+ projects combined with shared teaching and learning experiments offer a fruitful breeding ground for multidisciplinary research studies, conference presentations, stakeholder roundtables and workshops, and joint publications aimed at international professional and academic audiences. Networking with the industry partners of different universities has also allowed us to form completely new partnerships, including VET providers, public bodies, and enterprises, for building new RDI project proposals and consortia around strategic development needs.

Even if my experience is based only on a limited set of collaboration projects, it has become evident that combining several initiatives and utilizing complementary instruments is extremely effective for reaching large numbers of audiences and stakeholders, for building flexible long-term networks, and for achieving broader strategic objectives and stakeholder benefits in line with Erasmus+ horizontal priorities.

To learn more on Erasmus+ for Higher Education visit the Finnish National Agency for Education’s web page.

Editing: Marianne Wegmüller

Picture: Shutterstock