6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
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As described in Eurydice, Flanders has participated very actively in the European programmes (such as Comenius, Erasmus+ and Leonardo Da Vinci) right from the start. In multilateral cooperation (Unesco, the Council of Europe and the OECD), Flanders opts mainly for projects that tie in with Flemish education policy or where Flanders is able to make a structural contribution.
In the action plan “Brains on the move” (Brains on te move - actieplan mobiliteit 2013) the Flemish government stipulated that by 2020 at least 1 in 3 graduates from higher education must have followed part of their education or internship abroad, both inside and outside Europe. To this end, the Flemish government will provide the necessary grants, with extra attention for students from under-represented groups. These are students with a disability, scholarship students, immigrants, work students and students from cultural-ethnic minorities with a migration background.
Programmes for pupils in secondary education
- Twinning (action of the Erasmus+ Programme): Through eTwinning, primary and secondary schools can set up online projects in collaboration with schools in Europe. The use of eTwinning - the online community for schools in Europe - is free and low-threshold. An eTwinning project can be performed by teachers, teacher teams, directors, librarians, ICT coordinators and also by pupils.
- Erasmus+, Individual learning mobility KA1(Epos-Vlaanderen): Pupils who follow initial vocational education, such as technical and vocational education, can go abroad individually or in groups for 2 weeks to 12 months abroad.
- Neighbour classes (Epos-Vlaanderen) is a simple grant programme that allows class exchanges between 2 schools: 1 Belgian class and 1 class from a neighbouring country of Belgium. Schools in primary and secondary education of all levels and forms (including special needs education) can participate. Central to the projects are class exchanges, but these may not be the only project activities.
- With Erasmus in Schools (ESN Belgium) a school can invite an Erasmus student to class for one or more hours. In this way, students acquire knowledge of cultural diversity and international mobility.
- The Prince Philip Fund (Prins Filipfonds) provides financial support for language-crossing exchange projects in Belgium (Scholen Swich) that promote cooperation between schools, colleges and universities.
An overview of current possibilities for studying abroad can be found on the Euroguidance - Vlaanderen (in Dutch).
When they have reached the age of 15, pupils can also study abroad for a few months or a year on their own initiative. To go abroad during secondary education there are 2 ways: through a mediation organisation (AFS, Easy languages, EF, UWC, YFU, WEP) or the student arranges everything himself.
See also the pages of the Department of Education and Training on cross-border learning (de grens over met je klas).
Programmes for students in tertiary education
The action plan "Brains on the Move" contains a wide range of initiatives that contribute to the further development of an international high-quality higher education in Flanders. The emphasis is on student mobility. The action plan contains not only measures for Flemish students who go abroad, it also creates opportunities for attracting foreign students.
The European Commission's Erasmus programme is the most prominent. Institutions in higher education (or a consortium of institutions) can apply for EPOS (the National Agency for the Erasmus+ programme in Flanders) for mobility of staff and students (including graduates) within Europe. This allows students to study, work internship or gain work experience at a company or educational institution in another European country. During the academic year 2016/2017, 6.008 Flemish students in tertiary education followed - by means of the Erasmus exchange programme - a part of their studies or internship in another European country.
Mobility outside Europe is also possible within Erasmus + through cooperation with international partner countries, also known as International Credit Mobility). Institutions in higher education (or a consortium of institutions) can submit an application to EPOS. Through this action, students and staff from one of these partner countries can also come to a European Higher Education Institution.
The Flemish Department of Education and Training finances, within the framework of the Mobility Action Plan, also the following scholarship programmes:
- Priority Country Programme: This programme promotes student exchange between Flanders and a number of priority countries, namely Brazil, Chile, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, the United States of America and South Africa. Under the Priority Country programme, both an exchange of two students in a framework of a duo project is possible, as single outgoing mobility from Flanders. The total budget available for the Priority Country Programme in 2019/2020 is 450 000 EUR. Approximately 100 to 120 students can benefit from this programme in 2019/2020.
- ASEM-DUO: The purpose of this programme is to promote student exchange between Flanders and 4 countries in Asia (China, India, Vietnam and South Korea) on a balanced and permanent basis. In this respect, DUO-Belgium/Flanders requires that a pair (two persons) of students will be exchanged in the framework of a cooperative project. This can be done for one-semester mobility (with renewal of up to 1 year, where the grant amount is limited to 1 semester). The amount of the scholarships is standardized as follows:
- €650/month (with a maximum of €2.600) for Flemish students and €800/month (with a maximum of €3 200) for Asian students
- €1.100 for both the Flemish student and the Asian student for the purpose of travel costs.
- an extra €200/month (with a maximum of €800) for Flemish students that belong to the underrepresented groups in higher education
- The Washington Centre: The Washington Centre is an independent, nonprofit organisation offering internships and academic seminars to students from Flemish universities and colleges. The Department of Education and Training offers 12 scholarships for Flemish students who want to do an internship at international organizations or companies in Washington during one semester. The scholarship amount is € 9.000 per student (academic year 2019-2020). For students from underrepresented groups the scholarship amount is € 12.000.
- Generic scholarships (Generiek beurzenstelsel): The Flemish government allocates generic scholarships for mobility outside of Europe to students in tertiary education (ISCED 5,6 and 7). The programme aims to stimulate mobility complementary to the possibilities within the Erasmus + program. Mobility of minimum 1 month and maximum 12 months refers to study, internship or research in the context of a final work. The selection of the students takes place within the institution of higher education. The funding is managed and supported by the The Flemish Council of Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts (VLOHRA) in cooperation with the Department of Education and Training. The budget allocated for this action is € 1.781.955 (2018).
- Erasmus Belgica: This is a cooperation project between the three Communities of Belgium to enhance the mobility of higher-education students and to give them the opportunity to follow part of their programme at a university or university college in another Community. The programme follows the same principles as the European Erasmus programme. It concerns a study or internship period of minimum 2 (for internships) or 3 (for studies) months and maximum 12 months in a different community. Students receive a flat rate of 100 euros and a monthly scholarship of 100 euros if they can prove that they have specific accommodation costs for the duration of their stay in the other community.
More information on these programmes can be found on the website “Study abroad” (Studeer in het buitenland).
JINT was founded in 1989 by the Flemish government, in consultation with Flemish youth organizations. JINT's mission is to stimulate and support the international mobility and cooperation of young people and youth organizations. JINT is structurally financed by two institutions:
- The Department of Culture, Youth and Media of the Flemish Government
- The Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission
JINT promotes international mobility in the following ways:
- JINT builds bridges between international youth policy and Flemish youth policy, and between youth work abroad and in Flanders
- Under the name Go Strange, JINT shows individual young people their way abroad. Through Go Strange they find a range of international exchange opportunities, including volunteering, studying, internships and foreign camps.
- JINT is also the National Agency for the Youth in Action section of the Erasmus + program in Flanders and for the European Solidarity Corps. JINT takes care of the daily implementation of this subsidy program of the European Commission.
- JINT is responsible in Flanders for implementing the Belgian subsidy program Bel'J. The Bel'J program was established in 2009 and gives young people aged between 12 and 30 the opportunity to meet young people from the other Belgian communities by means of volunteering or a group exchange.
- JINT houses the SALTO-YOUTH Inclusion and Diversity Resource Centre that specializes in international projects with young people from vulnerable and diverse groups. It is one of the SALTO-YOUTH Resource centres set up by the European Commission to support the Youth in Action project applicants and the National Agencies.
- Offering young people, youth workers and their organizations tailor-made information throughout their international / intercultural trajectory. This goal is achieved by both online (e.g. newsletters, websites, social media) and offline information (e.g. info fairs, info sessions, help desk) channels. Some of the online information channels are:
- The Go Strange website provides an overview of organizations that allow Flemish youth from 14 to 30 years old to go abroad. The website also provides information about scholarships and grants and tips to prepare the foreign adventure (in 2015 a total of 94 626 users).
- The Quality Mobility App (Q! App): helps organisations to create learning mobility projects. It allows organisations to self-assess the quality of international youth projects and compare their assessment with colleagues. It can also provide organisations with an online platform to create their own project and cooperate with their partners. Several practical resources, tips, videos and checklists are provided to improve the quality of a learning mobility project.
- Kamiel is developed for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 who go abroad for a temporary, non-tourism activity. Kamiel informs young people on all practical issues when going abroad.
Mobility in the context of formal education
Students in higher education can contact in their institution an internationalization service for general information on international mobility. The study or internship in another European country within the Erasmus+ programme must meet the following conditions for students
- meet the learning objectives of the degree to be achieved;
- meet the student's personal development needs;
- be an integral part of the student's study programme
Mobility in the context of youth work
Since 2011, JINT together with several other Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agencies and research partners participate in the transnational, on-going Research-based analysis and monitoring of the Youth in Action Programme (RAY). RAY studies the impact of Youth in Action projects on participants, supervisors and their organizations.
JINT, together with the Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (Howest) Department of Social Agogics, studied the learning effects and impact of Youth in Action in Flanders for projects in the period 2007 to 2013. The result of this study were written down in a final evaluation report of the Youth in Action program (Eindevaluatie Youth in Action 2007-2013, an executive summary in English can be found on pages 107-108).
This final evaluation is limited to the work of JINT. It includes all sub-actions of Youth in Action program as executed by JINT in the period 2007 to 2013. The report is mainly based on data collected by the RAY-network in the period 2011-2014. In this period more than 610 participants and 179 project leaders of Youth in Action projects were reached through an online questionnaire. These quantitative data are complemented with qualitative data gathered in a focus group with project leaders, focus groups with social vulnerable young people and their project leaders and a written questionnaire with open questions for coordinators or staff members involved in the internationalisation of their organisation of seven big national youth work organisations. Finally, data from Youthlink (European Commission) and data provided by JINT are used. The report consists of the following parts:
- Statistics on input (personnel and financial resources) and output (number of projects, number of participants, …)
- Assessment of the relevance and effectiveness with extra attention for social vulnerable young people and the impact of the program on the organization, their functioning and their policy
- Assessment of sustainability
This evaluation report also reports recommendations
- for improving the implementation of Youth in Action under Erasmus +
- and regarding the contribution of Youth in Action to the realization of the internationalization of youth work in Flanders.