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Student mobility needs redefining in EU, says EUA briefing


European University Association paper suggests rethink of 20 per cent mobility target

A “radical redefinition” of student mobility is needed across the EU, according to a paper published by the European University Association.

The European Higher Education Area—through which EU member states and the European Commission work together to improve national higher education systems and their interconnections—has long sought to promote student mobility, including through a definition of it and a target for at least 20 per cent of graduates to complete an academic or work placement abroad.  

A briefing by EUA adviser Howard Davies, published on 4 September, pointed out that this 20 per cent goal had “never been reached”, adding that “now is the time” to reconsider its viability.

“A radical redefinition of student mobility is timely and desirable,” the paper said.

The target was intended to be reached by 2020, but Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and Brexit “seriously disrupted” the growth of student mobility, according to the paper.

It suggested that the benchmark’s catchment should be widened to include other mobile student populations, such as graduate trainees outside the scope of the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme for academic mobility; students in branch campuses; and those engaged in cross-border virtual learning.

The paper urged statistical agencies, including the Unesco Institute for Statistics, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Eurostat, to consider lifting restrictions on including branch campuses and distance learning as types of international mobility.