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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.5 Cross-border learning mobility

Last update: 11 January 2021
On this page
  1. Policy framework
  2. Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education
  3. Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work
  4. Quality assurance

Policy framework

In November 2011, Member States agreed on a benchmark of at least 20% of higher education graduates having had a period of study or training abroad, and 6% for vocational education and training students, both to be reached by 2020.


Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education

The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) works on promoting, implementing and offering guidance for the use of EU tools that support mobility. These include ECVET, ECTS, and the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF).  Furthermore, the NCFHE is in the process of developing a database for the national qualifications (database) (NQD) and linking it to the Learning Opportunities and Qualifications (LOQ) so that local and foreign students can get access to qualifications offered in Malta and Europe.

The NCFHE also collects data on student mobility during studies to monitor and evaluate credit and short term study mobility.

The University of Malta has been participating in the Erasmus programme for the last 19 years and has over this period of time strategically positioned the programme for it to be considered as not just the EU's but also the UOM's flagship programme for mobility. From its inception the UOM adopted a policy that studies conducted abroad through Erasmus and other programmes would be considered part of one's course of studies - this ensures that full recognition is obtained and a certain level of flexibility is allowed. The University of Malta is currently moving out a large number of students from courses which are linked to warrants and licencing which in itself can be a bit more complex to organise but which has been mastered successfully. 

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) has been absorbing Erasmus+ funds for student and staff mobility in recent years.  MCAST is implementing various actions to sustain international mobility of staff and students in higher education. Some of them are:

1. Increase the number of partner institutions across the EU to increase the number of available places for student and staff mobilities;

2. Engage Erasmus+ champions in all the Institutes at MCAST to promote and facilitate international mobility;

3. Organise students training courses to be entirely semester-based to enable students to go on international study mobilities during the academic year.


The European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA), is a legal autonomous agency established through the legal notice 128 of 2007. The aim of the EUPA has always been to support Maltese individuals and entities in availing themselves of funding under the various educational programmes provided by the European Commission. Yet the aim of the Agency is deeper than simply a financial contribution or sponsorship through which projects may be realised. Between 2007 and 2013 the EUPA was responsible for the management of the decentralised action of former generations of EU programmes for education including the Youth in Action and Lifelong learning programmes.

The Agency acts as a link between the European Commission and project promoters both at national as well as the local level, while it also promotes and manages EU projects of an educational nature, content or objective. The EUPA engages itself in initiatives that are consonant with the educational policies and strategies of the Ministry responsible for education.

For the current programming period (2014- 2020), the European Commission developed the new EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport under the name of Erasmus+. Programme decentralised actions are implemented at national level by a network of National Agencies. In Malta the National Agency responsible for the management of these actions is the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA).


As of 2017, the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) is also coordinating the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). The European Solidarity Corps (or, Korp Ewropew ta' Solidarjetà - KETS) is the new European Union initiative that enables young people to show solidarity with communities in their respective country as well as abroad.

Under the Erasmus+ Programme Higher Education students have the opportunity to study abroad for a period of 3 and 12 months. It is financed by the European Commission. In Malta, Erasmus+ is administered by the National Agency (EUPA) and the higher education institutions that participate in the programme.

Furthermore under the Erasmus+ Programme VET learners (including apprentices) in vocational training organisations (VET providers), have the opportunity to participate in work placements or a combination of school based learning and work placements, such activities last between 2 weeks and 3 months, whereas long term mobility in VET providers last between 3 and 12 months.

KA2 school exchange partnership projects

Students in secondary education can participate in a KA2 school exchange partnership project.  The main aim of Strategic Partnerships is to support the development, transfer and/or implementation of innovative practices as well as the implementation of joint initiatives promoting cooperation, peer learning and exchanges of experience at European level. The primary goal is to allow schools to develop and reinforce networks, increase their capacity to operate at a transnational level, share and confront ideas, practices and methods. A Strategic Partnership is transnational and involves a minimum of three organisations from three different Programme Countries. Exceptionally, the following types of projects may involve a minimum of two organisations from two different Programme Countries: Strategic Partnerships for schools only: This type of partnership may only apply for projects supporting exchange of good practices between organisations from Programme Countries.

In the field of school education, there are a number of priorities;

Reinforcing the development of key competences (in line with the Council Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning) for example by promoting cross-curricular collaboration, creativity and innovative learning approaches and environments, cooperating with stakeholders in local communities and abroad, supporting teachers in delivering competence based teaching and developing assessment and validation of key competences. 

Strengthening the profile of the teaching professions, including teachers, school leaders and teacher educators, for example by: making careers more attractive and diverse; strengthening selection, recruitment and evaluations (models of staff appraisal, assessment and feedback); enhancing teachers’ initial education and continuous professional development and linking its different phases; facilitating and significantly increasing teacher mobility, including by overcoming remaining obstacles; supporting teachers in developing innovative teaching and assessment methods, especially to promote competence-oriented teaching and learning; strengthening leadership in education, including distributed leadership and teacher leadership. 

Promoting a comprehensive approach to language teaching and learning (in line with the Council Recommendation on language teaching and learning), building on the increasing linguistic diversity in schools, for example by: encouraging early language learning and awareness; developing bilingual teaching options, especially for border regions and/or in areas where inhabitants use more than one language; mainstreaming the use of new technologies to support language learning; supporting the integration of the language dimension across the curricula; focusing on reaching adequate competence levels by the end of compulsory education; promoting the creation of language aware schools. 

Increasing the levels of achievement and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This priority will include, among others: promoting the development of national STEM strategies; developing partnerships between schools, businesses, higher education institutions, research institutions, and wider society; promoting effective and innovative pedagogies and assessment; promoting the STE(A)M approach to education through interdisciplinary teaching of STEM in cultural, environmental, economic, design and other contexts, with the involvement of all academic disciplines. 

Tackling early school leaving and disadvantage, enabling success for all learners, including children with a migrant background, for example by: strengthening collaboration among all actors within schools, as well as with families, and other external stakeholders; improving transitions between different stages of education; fostering preventive and early intervention approaches; supporting networking of schools which promote collaborative and holistic approaches to teaching and learning; improving evaluation and quality assurance.

Developing high quality early childhood education and care systems (in line with the ECEC Council Recommendation), for example by: supporting initial and continuing professional development of all staff involved in organising, leading and providing early childhood education and care; creating, testing or implementing strategies and practices to foster participation of all children in early childhood education and care, including children in need of special support (e.g. children with disabilities, or children from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, children from a migrant background); promoting the implementation of the EU quality framework for quality early childhood education and care. 

Building capacity for promoting and facilitating recognition of learning periods abroad (including follow-up to the Council Recommendation on automatic mutual recognition), including promoting recognition of formal education and transversal competences developed through non-formal and informal learning, for example by:building administrative capacity of schools to support participation of pupils in transnational projects and peer exchanges, including by exploring the potential of intermediary bodies pooling the capacity of several schools; establishing sustainable partnerships between organisations setting cross-border learning exchanges in general education; promoting embedded class exchanges or pupil mobility in school programmes; ensuring appropriate safety standards for pupils participating in transnational mobility; developing and disseminating tools and mechanisms for the preparation, monitoring and recognition of periods abroad; and sharing and promoting good practices. 

Developing strong quality assurance systems to achieve high-quality inclusive education and enhance trust among countries in relation to the quality of their respective school education systems, for example by: supporting countries in developing synergies between internal and external evaluations, in engaging stakeholders in quality assurance processes, or in designing their quality assurance strategies in ways to support broad competence development.

The duration of the project can take place between 12 and 36 months.

Eligible activities within a school partnership project are the following:

  • Blended mobility of pupils and learners combining short-term physical mobility (5 days to 2 months; excluding travel days) with virtual mobility;
  • Short-term exchanges of groups of pupils (5 days to 2 months; excluding travel days);
  • Long-term study mobility of pupils (2 to 12 months).
  • Eligible participants within a school partnership project are the following:
  • Pupils of any age, accompanied by school staff (in short-term exchanges of groups of pupils);
  • Pupils aged 14 or older enrolled in full-time education at a school participating in the Strategic Partnership (in long-term study mobility of pupils);

The main funding components under a KA2 school education project are the following:

  • Project Management and Implementation costs
  • Transnational project meetings
  • Exceptional costs
  • Special needs support

In addition for cross sectoral Strategic Partnerships supporting innovation any intellectual outputs and multiplier events are also eligible.

For transnational learning, teaching and training activities within the strategic partnership: travel and individual support, linguistic support and exceptional costs, are eligible costs.

As a mechanism to support young people in participating in Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, EUPA organises a number of workshops and information sessions to provide information and support on how to apply for funding. Furthermore, EUPA offers one to one assistance in discussing project proposals, officers are always available to provide support to young people.

VET mobility programmes

EU (Erasmus+) funded VET mobility programmes belong to the VET educational context and the purpose of these mobilities is the placement of learners in companies and VET learners in schools. Mobilities are only for outgoing learners and students go for short term duration mobilities (2 weeks).

The Erasmus+ funding provides students with funding to cover travel, subsistence as well as linguistic preparation expenses. 

Cross-border learning mobility - Tertiary education

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which are established in a Programme Country and awarded with an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) in advance by the European Commission can apply and participate in a KA1 Mobility project for higher education students and staff. In Malta there are 7 HEIs in possession of an ECHE charter.  The 3 most established HEIs which benefit on yearly basis from the Erasmus+ programme are University of MaltaMalta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS).

Student mobility:

  1. a study period abroad at a partner higher education institution (HEI);
  2. a traineeship (work placement) abroad in an enterprise or any other relevant workplace.

A study period abroad may include a traineeship period as well. Such a combination creates synergies between the academic and professional experience abroad and may be organised in different ways depending on the context: either one activity after the other or both at the same time. The combination follows the funding rules and minimum duration of study mobility.

To ensure high-quality mobility activities with maximum impact on the students, the mobility activity has to be compatible with the student’s degree-related learning and personal development needs. The study period abroad must be part of the student's study programme to complete a degree at a short cycle, first cycle (Bachelor or equivalent), second cycle (Master or equivalent) and third or doctoral cycle. Traineeships abroad at a workplace are also supported during short cycle, first, second, third cycle studies and within a maximum of one year after the student’s graduation. This also includes the 'assistantships' for student teachers. Wherever possible, the traineeships should be an integrated part of the student's study programme. Student mobility can be in any subject area/academic discipline.

Staff mobility:

  1. teaching periods: this activity allows HEI teaching staff or staff from enterprises to teach at a partner HEI abroad. Staff mobility for teaching can be in any subject area/academic discipline.
  2. training periods: this activity supports the professional development of HEI teaching and non-teaching staff in the form of training events abroad (excluding conferences) and job shadowing/observation periods/training at a partner HEI, or at another relevant organisation abroad. A period abroad can combine teaching and training activities.

The University of Malta participates in the Erasmus+ programme at tertiary level. University students proceed on an Erasmus+ mobility which is fully recognised as part of the course they would be reading with the University of Malta. The average duration of the mobilities for study purposes is mostly 1 semester (4-5 months) or a year (9 months).  Students who proceed on an Erasmus+ training mobility are allowed a minimum of 2 months up to 1 year, the average duration is that of 3 months. Academic and administrative staff exchanges to and from partner institutions are also catered for by the Erasmus+ programme.

The main purposes of students participating in the Erasmus+ programme is either to study for a period of time in a partner university in their field of studies or to carry out a traineeships or research mainly linked to their future profession or degree. While on an Erasmus+ exchange students are given to opportunity to follow the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) services which aim to improve a person’s language competences while on Erasmus.

Members of staff proceed on Erasmus+ to obtain more experience through the mobility of administrative/ technical staff or to carry out teaching and research through the academic mobilities.

Erasmus+ allows for both outbound and inbound mobility. The University sends and receives students through Bilateral Agreements specifically signed in relevant fields of studies that the partner universities have deemed as mutually beneficial.  When undertaking Erasmus+ for training students are free to proceed to partner institutions and other institutions/ companies that may be relevant to their field of interest.

The minimum duration for beneficiaries to proceed on Erasmus+ is a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 12 months for studies and a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 12 months for training. As stated above on average students proceed on study mobilities for about 1 semester (4 to 5 months) and proceed on traineeships for an average duration of 3 months. Under the current Erasmus+ programme students may proceed on both studies and traineeship mobilities. The average duration of staff exchanges is about 1 to 2 weeks

The Erasmus+ grants beneficiaries receive consist of a travel grant, which is a lump sum calculated, by the EU Commission, according to their destination and a monthly grant depending on destination too.  A similar progress is implemented for staff mobilities too.

EU (Erasmus+) funded VET mobility programmes belong to the VET educational context and the purpose of these mobilities is the placement of learners in companies and VET learners in schools. Mobilities are only for outgoing learners and students go for short term duration mobilities (2 weeks).

The Erasmus+ funding provides students with funding to cover travel, subsistence as well as linguistic preparation expenses.



Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work

In 2017 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ  coordinated a project called 'Let's Talk about Life'. This project was a multilateral 6 day exchange involving 4 countries. The participating countries include Poland, Ireland, Estonia and Malta, as the hosting country. 36 young people between the ages of 13 to 17 years participated in the youth exchange. 

The primary theme of the exchange was focused on young people's life with particular focus on Bullying and Gender Stereotyping. In line with this thematic focus, the project aimed at creating more awareness on the issue of gender stereo typing and bullying both in public spaces where young hang out and on social media through Peer Education. The project aimed to consolidate young people`s knowledge and understanding the ethical responsibility to prevent bullying and gender stereotyping and avoid being bystanders. By being aware of the impact of bullying and gender stereotyping, the young people were better equipped in bringing positive change and aware of their duty to stand up when discrimination takes place.

The project aimed to encourage young people to use their own knowledge and abilities to create peer educational material that could be used with their peers. The methodologies utilized during the youth exchange included a combination of non-formal learning methods such as interactive workshops, team building activities, inter-cultural events, experiential experiences, and evaluation and reflective sessions.

As a result of the project the participants became aware that in various situation injustices, discrimination and bullying can be minimized by speaking up and not being indifferent and hence becoming proactive citizens. Moreover, the project helped in encouraging young people to take on active roles in their respective communities, thus sustaining the European democratization process.

The project made use of  Erasmus+ funding.

The main mechanisms in place to monitor and ensure the quality of the programmes implemented were an APV at the start of the project during which management of project was discussed and various evaluation tools during the project  such as Mood Boards, comparing expectations shared on first day of the project to the participants actually experienced, mid-way evaluation activity, national group evaluations, daily leaders meeting, informal discussion about the project with the young people .

The main criteria and indicators used to assess the quality of programmes were a Presentation of exchange programme on the first day; a discussion and activity about the youthpass, the 7 competencies, youthpass journal; a daily reflection time with youth leaders from respective groups and the completion of Youthpass online

The main outcomes of quality assurance process given through  the MT NA the European Union Programmes Agency.


Quality assurance

European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) constantly monitors closely all awarded projects through:

  1. General Monitoring Meetings
  2. Desk Monitoring
  3. Regular one to one meetings with all ongoing projects (bilateral meetings)
  4. On-site monitoring visits
  5. Quarterly round table meetings with all awarded Higher Education Institutions having an ongoing KA1 mobility project.
  6. Mobility tool training

The MT NA also created a handbook listing all the necessary guidelines and procedures that entities need to abide to. This is distributed to all institutions having an ongoing project. 

In addition, the MT NA holds a number of checks both during the implementation of the project, therefore an on the spot during the action, while also a check after the project has been finalised, therefore an on the spot after the action. The MT NA also conducts system checks on recurrent beneficiaries such as Higher Education Institutions. 

The MT NA closely monitors all 7 entities holding an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) through monitoring visits, by using the ECHE monitoring guide provided by the European Commission. 

The main criteria for the assessment of the quality of the programmes consist in the assessment of the quality of outputs and deliverables against what is declared at application stage. In the latter, applications are assessed vis-à-vis the adherence to Commission as well as local priorities. Following qualitative evaluation and financial evaluation, funding can be withheld (namely the final payment) if the programme is deemed unsatisfactory in terms of quality.