6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
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National Agency: OeAD - Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalisation
The OeAD GmbH (Agentur für Bildung und Internationalisierung) is the central service centre for European and international mobility and cooperation programmes in the fields of education, science and research. It advises, promotes and provides support to strategic development. As an agency of the Republic of Austria, the OeAD contributes to inclusive, equal and high-quality education.It analyses international developments and uses this information to form recommendations and measures, thus contributing to Austria’s path in meeting the challenges and changes of the time in the sense of the UN Action Plan ‘Transforming our World: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development’ and strengthening Austria as a location for business and employment. The OeAD’s activities are funded by the Republic of Austria, in particular by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Federal Chancellery, the Austrian Development Agency and the European Commission.
The Federal Law on the OeAD GmbH (Bundesgesetz zur Errichtung der „OeAD-Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung“, 2008) describes all relevant tasks and topics of the OeAD. All shares in the OeAD are owned by the federal government. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is tasked with exercising the shareholder rights.
As a full-service provider, OeAD deals with the creation and implementation of the programmes. It coordinates international higher education marketing and represent Austria as a location for learning and research around the world. OeAD is an expert partner for strategic tasks in international cooperation. Its core business is the exchange of people across the age and educational spectrum. In doing this, it supports institutional cooperation in Europe and worldwide, manages international cooperation programmes and coordinates and supports their implementation. One special focus is set on development cooperation and exporting education.
Main provisions and guiding principles in Higher Education
An overarching strategy on mobility is in place (Hochschulmobilitäts- und Internationalisierungsstrategie 2020-2030). The strategy aims for a holistic approach to the internationalisation of studies and teaching that includes mobility and permeates all levels and areas of a university and other higher education institution. It is based on five goals:
- Promoting a comprehensive culture of internationalisation at the universities
- Promoting mobility for all members of higher education institutions
- Develop and implement innovative mobility formats
- Effective competence development and institutional learning
- Global Mindset - Austria's Higher Education Institutions in the World
Student support measures are portable (with some restrictions) and comprehensive measures to facilitate the mobility of disadvantaged learners are in place. In this context, the aim is to increase the participation in learning mobility by students whose parents do not have higher education qualifications to at least 18 % by 2025. Comprehensive monitoring takes place through student surveys and administrative data and targeted mobility grants are foreseen.
There is no automatic recognition at system in place, but comprehensive conditions are in place (clear guidance and decision period, appeals procedures, monitoring). ECTS are allocated on the basis of learning outcomes & student workload.
Mobility projects in Erasmus+
‘Mobility projects in Erasmus+ support study and training periods abroad in general education and vocational education and training. The aim is to achieve positive and sustainable effects for the participants and organisations. This is the sub-programme with the highest budget within the Erasmus+ programme. In Austria alone, some 14,000 people become mobile by means of Erasmus+ every year.
Institutions working in the field of education can submit mobility projects. The projects support the mobility of learners, teachers and staff at educational institutions. Students can spend part of their studies or do an internship in another European country by means of Erasmus+. Graduates, as well as pupils in initial vocational education and apprentices, also have the possibility to do on-the-job training abroad. Teachers and staff of educational institutions of all educational sectors can benefit from further education activities abroad or teach abroad for a certain period of time. International mobility in higher education to and from partner countries worldwide as well as ‘Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degrees’ are also supported.
- Erasmus+ mobility projects in school education (Schulbildung) (for (nursery school) teachers, teachers and other educational staff at schools)
- Erasmus+ mobility projects in vocational education and training (Berufsbildung) (for people in initial vocational education and training and specialists in vocational education and training)
- Erasmus+ mobility projects in higher education (Hochschulbildung) (for students, graduates, lecturers and staff at higher education institutions)
- Erasmus+ mobility projects in adult education (Erwachsenenbildung) (for adult educators and other adult education staff)
Erasmus+ inspires learners and teachers to engage in international academic exchange, promotes their personal and academic development and career opportunities, enriches higher education institutions through foreign guests, helps Europe grow together, and supports the development of higher education in partner countries.’
Programme period 2021-2027 (Startschuss für Erasmus+ 2021–2027: Mehr als 500 Mio. Euro für Österreich)
The new programme generation encompasses around 26 billion euros for the duration of seven years - of which 83% for education, 10.3% for youth and 1.9% for sport. Likely more than 500 million euros for the years 2021 to 2027 from the EU's funding pot will be spent in implementing Erasmus+ in Austria. Digital education, virtual mobility and cooperation will be intensified from 2021 and inclusive access to the programmes for all people is also a special focus for the next seven years. The European Solidarity Corps directly addresses young people and youth initiatives. The inclusion of ‘sport’ in the area of learning mobility opens up new further training opportunities for staff in the sports sector.
Erasmus+, the educational programme of the European Commission further supports
- further education of teachers and other school staff
- cooperation of actors in education (higher education institutions, schools, authorities, NGOs, companies, …) to learn from each other or try something new
- partnerships between schools and kindergartens from different countries
- learning periods of youngsters (14 years or older) at partner schools abroad (this is only possible within the framework of school partnerships)
- networking of teachers and cooperation of schools on a web platform all over Europe
OeAD support for vocational education and training and further education
People in initial vocational education: The European programme Erasmus+ provides financial support options for pupils at schools of vocational education who want to gain experience abroad at a comparable institution. This also applies to apprentices who want to do part of their training at a company in another European country.
School leavers and apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship can apply for financial support within the framework of Erasmus+ provided that they complete their internship abroad within one year of completing their school education or their apprenticeship.
Specialists in vocational education and training, e.g. teachers and trainers as well as career counsellors and personnel managers in companies can apply for funded stays abroad for vocational further education and training in the form of teaching assignments, job shadowing, etc.
Vocational education and training institutions can submit innovative project ideas in Erasmus+; the exchange of good practice between them can also be funded. European project partners – e.g. educational institutions, companies, social partners, authorities, research institutions, etc. – will, for example, develop new curricula together. In this way e.g. a virtual platform to document the work of dance instructors, courses for teachers and trainers who want to prevent young people from dropping out of their education or training, or materials to facilitate access of deaf youngsters to the labour market will be developed with the participation of Austrian institutions.
Other international co-operations in higher education
‘While scholarship programmes support stays abroad of individuals, project support enables transnational cooperation in scientific projects. People can apply for project support within the framework of bilateral agreements or within multilateral networks. Funding is provided mainly for accommodation expenses and travel expenses. There are different foci in project funding, both thematic and regional ones, and both project terms and funding sums vary.’ The vast range of international cooperation is depicted on the OEAD’s Website, some examples include:
On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the OeAD promotes exchange and cooperation between educational institutions in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and Austria in order to support sustainable education reforms at the pre-university level. The projects are implemented through five project offices located in Chisinau, Odessa, St. Petersburg, Sarajevo (responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) and Tirana (responsible for Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia), which are headed by Austrian educational coordinators. The OeAD’s project partners include the respective ministries responsible for education and training at the pre-university level, education and vocational education and training agencies, teacher training institutions, regional education administrations, schools and other stakeholders in the OeAD’s partner countries and in Austria. Moreover, the OeAD supports the Ministry in implementing mobility programmes in the region.
The OeAD promotes innovative forms of peer learning within and between education systems to promote targeted change management. The thematic focuses are oriented on common priorities at the interface between national education developments and those at EU level. A priority area in this context is vocational education and training. Multilingualism and diversity are continually increasing at Austrian schools. OeAD promotes dialogue and cooperation between educational institutions in Austria and the main countries of origin of children with migration backgrounds.
- Bilateral projects (Bilaterale Aktionen) - Czech Republic, Hungary andSlovakia
‘The campaigns between Austria and the neighbouring countries Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakiaenable scientific exchange between the neighbouring countries and support the learning of each other’s language. Different scholarships for students, lecturers and researchers as well as project funding support bilateral cooperation with the aim of creating sustainable relationships.’(Aktion Österreich - Slowakei, Aktion Österreich - Ungarn)
- ASEA-European Academic University Network (ASEA-UNINET)
‘The higher education institutions network’s aim is to support research and teaching activities between the member universities in Europe and South-East Asia (Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam). It was founded by Austria, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand in 1994.
ASEA-Uninet Austria receives funds from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Approximately 100 bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects between Austrian and Southeast Asian member universities are funded each year. The main focus is on research projects in which scientists as of the post-doc level can take part. Training/teaching courses, workshops and summer schools are also supported. Project funding is available for travel costs and/or accommodation costs according to the ASEA-UNINET terms. A financial contribution of the Asian partner university in the relevant project is desired.’
- Eurasia-Pacific Uninet (EPU)
‘The Eurasia-Pacific Uninet (EPU) was established in 2000 with the objective of creating an educational network for Austrian universities and educational institutions in Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific area. It comprises a great number of international partners of all fields of research and supports projects in the areas of research, research-based teaching and art as well as technology cooperations. For the academic year 2015/16, the EPU approved approx. 60 projects with a total funding volume of 325,000 euros. Only scientists at Austrian EPU member institutions can submit project applications. The funds serve exclusively to cover travel and accommodation costs. The amount of the funding depends on the individual projects (Guideline: 1500 euros/person for travel costs and accommodation).’
- HERAS Scholarship Programme
‘The HERAS scholarship programme offers (prospective) PhD students and PostDocs a grant for their studies and/or research in Austria. The target group are staff members of Kosovan public higher education institutions, which are not in Austria yet. Scholarship amount and age limits for PhD: € 1050,-/month; max. 35 years old (exceptionally 40 years old in case of considerable care responsibilities); for PostDoc: € 1.150,-/month; max. 40 years old or max. 5 years after award of the PhD degree.’
- IMPULSE Iran - Austria
IMPULSE Iran - Austria is based on a mutual interest to considerably improve knowledge exchange on an international level and to strengthen the international profile of the institutions involved. The aim of the programme is to stimulate joint activities and contribute to direct collaboration among universities, higher education and research institutions of both countries. Thus, the OeAD-GmbH and the MSRT will support the initiating phase of sustainable partnerships financially with means from their respective funds. The Centre for International Cooperation and Mobility at the OeAD-GmbH will be in charge of administering all relevant programme procedures on the Austrian side. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research will be in charge of the administration of all relevant programme procedures on the Iranian side.
- Scientific & Technological Cooperation (S&T Cooperation)
‘The Scientific & Technological Cooperation (S&T Cooperation) is based on inter-governmental and bilateral agreements for co-operations in the fields of science and technology. The financial support is intended for research visits within the framework of concrete scientific cooperation projects with researchers from partner countries of the Scientific & Technological Cooperation; the basic funding of the research projects must be secured from other sources. Funding is available mainly for travel and accommodation costs. Active bilateral agreements are currently in place with Argentina, Albania, Bulgaria, China, France, India, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Vietnam.’
The ESC is a relatively new programme of the European Union to promote young people's involvement in projects and activities that benefit the community. It offers young people (aged 18 to 30) the opportunity to get involved in community projects in their own country or abroad. Organisations and companies can offer volunteering opportunities to young people from all over Europe with the help of the ESC.
The Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme is the European Union's mobility and non-formal education programme for young people and those working with them, in a leisure time context (outside school). The YiA programme promotes active European citizenship, youth participation, cultural diversity and the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.
Moreover, with Erasmus+ Adult Education, the European Union supports cross-border cooperation between adult education institutions and institutions related to adult education.
Quality Management at OeAD (Qualitätsmanagement)
‘Since 2006, OeAD has been running a quality and process management system, which aims to guarantee continuous improvement, development and optimisation of its services and internal processes. In the same year, the OeAD was certified for the first time according to the international quality standard ISO 9001. Since then the effectiveness of the quality management system has been confirmed every year by external audits.
The system of internal quality assurance and improvement is based on the business processes that are documented in a transparent and uniform manner. Thanks to the regular evaluation of process performances and workflows by those responsible for the processes, on the one hand through the annual internal audit undertaken by the designated QM officer and on the other hand procedural errors and implementation risks, structural failures and deviations from the goals can be identified early and the corresponding corrective or preventative measures can be brought about. The expansion of the internal control system for compliance management is especially helpful in ensuring the business’ legal compliance and reducing the corresponding risks.
To complement the system, critical feedback, complaints and suggestions from both the service recipient as well as from the contracting entity are promptly captured and analysed in order to be able to take pick up on the trends and concerns voiced by our customers.’