6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
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European and international openness is a priority for all schools. In March 2009, as part of the “Europe 2020” strategy, the Council of the European Union set goals for “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”. Mobility is one of these major goals for the coming decade. The Government would like training periods abroad - both in Europe and in the rest of the world - to become the rule, not the exception.
Considered as a driver of school success, mobility is promoted by public authorities and education authorities through programmes and mechanisms with multiple objectives: training citizens of the world, facilitating post-secondary studies in another country, and allowing pupils and students to have access to a wider labour market.
This mobility policy is based not only on the Regulation (EU) 2021/817 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2021 establishing Erasmus+, the Union’s programme for education and training, youth and sport, and repealing the regulation (EU) no. 1288/2013, but also on national texts such as the circular no. 2011-116 of 3 August 2011 on Management of European and international mobility in lower and upper secondary schools or the instruction No. DJEPVA/BRI/2016/18 dated 14 January 2016 on international mobility of young people and European and international cooperation.
It is also accomplished through various actions: the building of partnerships between public authorities, institutions, and through bilateral or multilateral cooperation.
School and international higher education partnerships
Partnerships between establishments enable the whole education community (teachers, administrative staff, pupils and students) to gather around specific, sustainable and multidisciplinary projects. They strengthen knowledge production as well as the international visibility of establishments, above all higher education and research institutions.
Within the framework of secondary education, pupils are also called upon to individually relay these partnerships and create links and distance exchanges with their correspondents by using information and communication technology (visioconferencing, IT tool, radio programmes...).
International and European mobility grants
In order to support international mobility for all young people, departure grant schemes have been set up in particular by higher education establishments.
International mobility aid is intended to support the international mobility of students who wish to undertake a higher education course abroad within the framework of an exchange programme or to carry out an international internship. This course or internship must be part of their course of study.
It takes the form of an additional grant to the bursary awarded on social grounds, for the students benefiting from it. The monthly instalment is 400 euros. The length of the student’s aided stay abroad cannot be shorter than two months or longer than nine consecutive months.
The beneficiaries of this aid are selected by the higher education establishment they depend on.
Other grants and bursaries can be offered by Ministry of Foreign Affairs or by local authorities (regional councils, municipalities...).
Mobility grants for French overseas young people
Within the framework of the policy of the Ministry of Overseas France in favour of Ultramarine youth, the State has set up a fund the purpose of which is to contribute to the financing of expenditure relating to transport costs in the context of educational, cultural and sports exchanges: the Educational, Cultural and Sports Exchange Fund (Fonds d’Echanges à But Educatif, Culturel et Sportif, FEBECS).
This fund is based on article 40 of the Overseas Guidance Law No. 2000-1207 of 13 December 2000).
The FEBECS makes it possible to participate in the coverage of expenses related to the transport costs of young people under 30 years of age in the context of trips occasioned by cultural events or trips, language trips, competitions or sports events.
The fund is intended exclusively for the financing of travel to Metropolitan France and to the regional environment (neighbour departments and countries in the area).
Among the learning mobility programmes and schemes, a distinction can be made between those aimed at pupils and students and those reserved for teachers.
Exchange and mobility schemes are many and varied: some are part of a European programme (Erasmus+, ...), of a bilateral programme or a specific awareness-raising campaign. They can be individual projects or collective projects within the framework of exchanges, partnerships or travels. The most important programmes include those of the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ) and those of the Erasmus + Education/training programme.
A few examples of mobility programmes (the projects described here are indicative)
“Programme Brigitte Sauzay” of the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ)
Through the Brigitte Sauzay programme, the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ) encourages lower and upper secondary pupils (from grade 8 to 11) to take part in an individual school exchange. Participants spend 3 months in a host family in Germany and host their correspondent for the same length of time in France. Each pupil attends the school of the partner for at least 6 weeks.
The programme makes it possible to experience a genuine immersion both into the school system and into the daily life of the neighbour country. It facilitates the learning of the German language and the development of social and intercultural skills. The financial support consists of a flat-rate amount for travel expenses.
“London” bursaries programme
The so-called “London” bursaries offer French upper secondary school pupils the opportunity to spend a school year (second or final year of upper secondary school) in one of the six French establishments abroad: London, Vienna, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid and Dublin.
This programme is aimed at pupils enrolled in an upper secondary school in France in the tenth and eleventh grade to spend the eleventh or twelfth grade year in a French high school abroad.
It is a grant covering 100% of the cost of schooling and expenses related to schooling abroad (except travel expenses between France and the high school); the amount of the grant is established according to the income of the pupil’s parents. A host family is provided for.
Erasmus + programmes 2021-2027
The Erasmus+ programme + 2021-2027 is an important instrument to build the European space of education by 2025. It contributes to the implementation of the new European strategic framework in the field of education and training, to advance cooperation on youth policy.
In order to achieve these objectives, the Erasmus+ programme implements the following actions:
- Key action 1 - Mobility for education and training purposes;
- Key action 2 - Cooperation between organisations and institutions;
- Key action 3 - Supporting policy making and cooperation;
- Jean Monnet actions.
The Erasmus+ programme + 2021-2027 continues to cover all the sectors of education and training: school education, higher education, vocational education and training and adult education, as well as the sports and youth sectors.
International students in France
The “bienvenue en France” (welcome to France) strategy
Announced by the Prime Minister in November 2018, the “Bienvenue en France” strategy aims to achieve the target of 500,000 international mobility students in France in 2027.
This new strategy for higher education attractiveness is based on the improvement of conditions for receiving international students.
Several measures concern the issuance of visas, in particular “harmonising and simplifying the documents necessary for student visa applications”.
The strategy focuses on the development of a real culture of hospitality with the wish to generalise all the good practices already existing within French establishments. The measures provide for:
- “The creation of a “Bienvenue en France” label attributed by Campus France to establishments that tangibly improve the reception of international students.
- Systematising single reception desks for foreign students
- The supervision of each foreign student by a referent,
- Facilitated access to housing with access to the Lokaviz platform in English languageand the creation of a Maison des étudiants francophones (House of French-speaking students) at the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris,
- The doubling of the French as a foreign language (Français Langue Etrangère, FLE) courses and the training courses taught in English”.
As for the formal education programmes, the mobility policies in the non-formal field are based on legislative frameworks, partnerships between public authorities and community-based stakeholders and take shape through cooperation between States or between European and international institutions.
Moreover, since 2018, the legislative and regulatory framework has been supplemented in higher education with the Decree 2018-372 of 18 May 2018 on the temporary suspension of studies in public institutions delivering higher education initial training courses.
This decree recognises the possibility for any student to suspend their studies once during the university cycle for a period ranging from six months to a year, to gain a 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 cannot be made compulsory in the course the student is taking. This decree enables students to experience mobility outside a formal setting.
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.
In order to assess the impact of mobility on the schooling, vocational and social integration of young people, the ministries concerned and student and pupil mobility operators regularly carry out a quantitative and qualitative data production work.
The assessments of the schemes also aim to improve them.
These assessments are designed by ministerial statistics and studies departments such as the Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ) under the joint supervision of the ministries in charge of labour and national education, the Directorate of Evaluation, Forecasting and Performance Monitoring (DEPP) of the Ministry of National Education and the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (Institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire, INJEP), which regularly conduct studies on the mobility scheme in a formal and non-formal educational setting. Mobility operators such as the Erasmus+ Agency and the Franco-German Youth Office also assess their own mobility schemes and their effects on youth.
Mobility and safety
Other monitoring processes aiming at controlling the smooth and proper implementation of mobility are also set up by the Ministry of National Education and its ministerial partners (Ministry in charge of foreign affairs).