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In the context of the Bologna Process, France took part in the drafting of reference criteria for learning mobility. Regarded as a vector of academic success, mobility is promoted by France’s public authorities through programmes and schemes with a wide range of aims, including the shaping of world citizens, facilitating continuation of studies in another country, and giving pupils and students access to a wider (international) labour market.
The various mobility schemes in Europe and across the world provide concrete experience in linguistic and cultural learning. They are intended for a wide public (schoolchildren, apprentices, and stakeholders in the education system), are essentially carried out for the purpose of learning, and are components of educational projects.
Learning mobility policies are based on partnerships between public authorities and community operators and are given concrete expression by bilateral cooperation between States via organisation of a system of teaching French abroad and implementation of European and international educational content.
New regulations and legislation governing higher education came into force since 2018:
- Decree 2018-372 of 18 May 2018, bearing on temporary suspension of studies in public institutions delivering initial higher education training courses, enables any students who so wish to suspend their studies once during their undergraduate or graduate courses, for a period of between six months to a year, in order to acquire personal or professional experience either on their own or under the supervision of a host body in France or abroad. Such time off is at the student’s own initiative and may not be made compulsory in the course the student is taking.
For further information, see Eurydice, Chapter 13, “Mobility and Internationalisation”, which is devoted to international learning mobility programmes at all educational levels.
A distinction must be made between mobility programmes intended for schoolchildren and students and those designed for teachers. The largest is the European Erasmus + programme for education, training, youth and sport.
Erasmus + also provides mobility actions for:
- nursery, primary and secondary school teaching staff,
- Learners and teaching staff in vocational education and training,
- Students, teachers and staff in higher education,
- Staff in adult education.
Each school level has its own mobility programmes. For further information on their specificities and the operators promoting them, see Eurydice:
- 13.1 Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education;
- 13.2 Mobility in Higher Education;
- 13.3 Mobility in Adult Education and Training.
Lastly, the Ministries of the Interior and Higher Education, Research and Innovation have set up single windows for foreign students at universities which are in liaison with Regional Centres for Student Services (CROUSs – Centres Régionaux des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires), local authorities, prefectural services and social action services (Caisse des allocations familiales) , in order to improve reception of foreign students on campuses and facilitate administrative procedures.
Stakeholders in the fields of youth work and non-formal education, in partnership with the ministries responsible for youth policies (National Education), offer a range of non-formal mobility schemes designed for young people. Fostering access to such schemes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is one of the challenges taken up by the public authorities and youth mobility operators.
The main non-formal mobility schemes are:
- The programmes organised by the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ - Office Franco-allemand) and the Franco-Quebecois Youth Office (OFQJ – Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse)
- International civic service set up by the Civic Service Agency
- Mobility actions (European voluntary service, youth exchanges, etc.) included in the Erasmus + programme
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Youth Solidarity- City Life Holiday” (JSI-VVVSI – Jeunesse Solidarité-Ville Vie Vacances ) programmes
- International Solidarity Volunteering (VSI – Volontariat de solidarité internationale)
The Youth Wiki chapter “2.6 Cross-border mobility programmes” describes these various schemes.
Moreover, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) launches annually calls for “youth” projects designed to support decentralised cooperation projects involving French and foreign young people mobilised in the context of volunteering schemes or vocational training courses.
The calls have enjoyed technical support from the Ministry of National Education (Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and NGOs (DJEPVA – Direction de la jeunesse, de la vie associative et de l’éducation populaire)), the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Department for Culture, Education, Research and Networking (DCERR – Direction de la culture, de l'enseignement, de la recherche et du réseau)), France Volontaires, the Civic Service Agency (ASC – Agence du Service Civique) and the two Erasmus+ Agencies, and the support of the Schneider Electric Foundation.
Fostering mobility for socially disadvantaged young people
Apart from these schemes, there are the non-compulsory actions implemented by local authorities (Regional Councils and municipalities) to foster non-formal mobility, in particular on the part of young people experiencing economic difficulties or with fewer opportunities :
Young people from Overseas France
For young people from Overseas France, the Exchange Fund for Educational, Cultural and Sports Purposes (FEBECS – Fond d’échanges à but éducatif, culturel ou sportif), set up in the context of the Framework Law for Overseas France of 13 December 2000, helps cover transport costs for young people under 30 years of age in the context of educational, cultural and sports exchanges (to "Metropolitan" France or the regional environment (neighbouring territories)).
It supports mobility on the part of young people from the Antilles-Guyana area, Reunion Island, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Wallis-et-Futuna, and Mayotte to Metropolitan France.
Some assessments are both qualitative and quantitative and aim to characterise and improve such schemes. These are carried out by such ministerial statistics and studies departments as the Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ – Centre d'études et de recherches sur les qualifications) under the co-supervision of the Ministries of Labour and National Education, the Department of Evaluation, Forward-Looking Analysis and Performance (DEPP – Direction de l'évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance) and the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (INJEP – Institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire), which regularly carry out studies on formal and non-formal mobility schemes.
Other monitoring procedures aiming to ensure that mobilities are properly implemented and run have also been set up by the Ministry of National Education and its partners. Such actions come under the European Quality Charter for Mobility. School mobility schemes for French children are carefully supervised and secured. Among other things, this is expressed by the need (for schools) to anticipate all practical and administrative steps required, such as implementation of assessment procedures and designation of advisors, accompanying adults and tutors.
Schools must also list all trips abroad made by pupils and accompanying staff on the "Ariane" website set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The website enables school heads and accompanying adults to benefit in real time from safety recommendations on the situations in destination countries.
Finally, so as not to penalise pupils carrying out mobilities in the context of partnerships between their schools and foreign schools, schoolchildren and apprentices can obtain certificates of European or international experience.
Such monitoring procedures are defined in reference texts designed to regulate, accompany, validate and secure mobility:
- Circular no.2016- 091 of 15 June 2016 bearing on mobility of lower and upper secondary students in Europe and across the world.
- Circular no.2011-117 bearing on outings and trips organised by lower and upper secondary schools.