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«Mobility Windows From Concept to Practice ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education Lemmens Irina Ferencz, Kristina Hauschildt and Irma ...»

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Irina Ferencz, Kristina Hauschildt and Irma Garam (eds.)

Mobility Windows

From Concept to Practice

ACA Papers on

International Cooperation in Education Lemmens

Irina Ferencz, Kristina Hauschildt and Irma Garam (eds.)

Mobility Windows

From Concept to Practice

ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education

Irina Ferencz, Kristina Hauschildt and Irma Garam (eds.)

Mobility Windows

From Concept to Practice


Die Deutsche Bibliothek – CIP-Einheitsaufnahme Mobility Windows: From Concept to Practice/Irina Ferencz, Kristina Hauschildt and Irma Garam (eds.) – Bonn: Lemmens Medien GmbH, 2013 (ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education) ISBN 978-3-86856-009-1 NE: ACA Papers © Copyright 2013 Lemmens Medien GmbH, Bonn Alle Rechte vorbehalten


Matthias-Grünewald-Straße 1-3 D-53175 Bonn Telefon: +49 228 4 21 37-0 Telefax: +49 228 4 21 37-29 E-Mail: info@lemmens.de Internet: www.lemmens.de Printing: Kössinger AG, Schierling This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Contents Contents Acknowledgements

Executive summary


1. Introduction

1.1 Policy context

1.2 Project rationale

1.3 Project approach

1.4 Structure of the publication

Part 1. Mobility windows: conceptual framework

2. Review and definition of the term “mobility window”

2.1 A literature review

2.1.1 The origins of the mobility window concept................. 29 2.1.2 Integrated study abroad programmes

2.2 Definition of mobility windows

3. Types of mobility windows

3.1 Generating a typology

3.2 A typology of mobility windows

3.3 Main types in real life – integration of windows into study programmes

3.3.1 Mobility windows covered in the sample

3.3.2 Activity supported by the mobility window

3.3.3 Types of study programmes with mobility windows..... 46 3.3.4 Number of windows per programme

Part 2. Mobility windows in action: functioning, typical challenges and observed solutions

4. Why mobility windows? Rationales at the study programme and the institution level

Mobility Windows: From Concept to Practice

4.1 Institution- and programme-focused rationales

4.2 Student-focused rationales

4.3 Policy-focused rationales

5. Setting-up mobility windows

5.1 Initiating and supporting mobility windows

5.2 Establishing and maintaining partnerships for mobility windows

5.2.1 Criteria for choosing partners

5.2.2 Cooperating with partners

5.2.3 Typical challenges and identified solutions

5.3 A one-way or a two-way window? One or multiple destinations?

5.4 Who takes part in window mobility?

5.4.1 Selection

5.4.2 Student numbers and selectivity

5.5 Advertising mobility windows

5.5.1 Information and marketing channels

5.5.2 Mobility window as a selling point of the programme.. 70 5.5.3 Challenges of advertising mobility windows................. 71

5.6 Funding mobility windows

5.7 Students’ motivations and expectations

6. Integrating mobility windows into the curriculum

6.1 Timing of the mobility window

6.2 Building the content of the mobility window

6.3 Working to ensure window recognition

6.4 Typical challenges in ensuring recognition


7. Organising and supporting window mobility

7.1 Sharing responsibility – who does what?

7.2 Typical challenges and identified solutions

7.3 Funding mobility

8. The evaluation stage

8.1 Collecting feedback

8.2 Recognition

Part 3. Conclusions and recommendations

9. The impact of mobility windows

9.1 Mobility windows – a mass phenomenon?

9.2 Benefits of mobility windows

9.2.1 Benefits of mobility windows for the study programme and the institution

9.2.2 Students’ perceptions – benefits of mobility (windows)

10. Recommendations


Annex I. Tips for making mobility windows work

Annex II. List of researched study programmes

Annex III. Biographies of the project team

What is ACA?

ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education


Acknowledgements This publication is the outcome of the MOWIN project – “Mapping mobility windows in European higher education. Examples from selected countries”.

Covering a two-year period – from October 2011 to September 2013 – the MOWIN project was coordinated by the Brussels-based Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), and carried out in close collaboration with the DZHW (Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, formerly HIS-HF), Germany, as well as the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) in Finland. The three organisations intended to explore the concept of mobility windows which is often used in the European higher education discourse.

The project and ensuing book would not have been possible without the kind support and sustained contributions of a number of individuals and institutions. During the project period the team received constant and valuable support from a highly experienced international Advisory Board. We would thus like to especially thank the Board’s members – Fiona Hunter (Carlo Cattaneo University), Jonna Korhonen (EUA), Rok Primožic (ESU), Alf Rasmussen ˇ (SIU), Marina Steinmann (DAAD) and Ulrich Teichler (INCHER-Kassel). We are grateful for their advice on the project’s methodology, their suggestions for improving the definition and typology of mobility windows and for their feedback on the text of the final publication.

The team is also deeply grateful to ACA member organisations which have provided advice on relevant literature sources and shared contacts in their countries.

Above all, this project would not have been possible without the dedicated participation of a number of higher education institutions and programme coordinators and directors in the five target countries – Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Romania. Our warm thanks go to the programme coordinators and academics who helped organise the site visits, who made themselves available for the interviews and who agreed to share with the project team information on the positive as well as the challenging aspects of implementing mobility windows. Thanks are also due to the students who participated in the focus group interviews, or who agreed to share their views via bilateral interviews or e-mail questionnaires. We are also grateful to the representatives of the international offices who replied to the online validation survey, as well as the participants in the workshop “Mobility windows” organised in the framework of the ACA Annual Conference in June 2013.

The authors of the report are thankful to colleagues from their respective organisations, who although were not part of the official project team, have constantly supported the work of the latter.

Mobility Windows: From Concept to Practice Last but certainly not least importantly, we are grateful to the European Commission, who co-funded this project through the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) – the ERASMUS Multilateral Projects Action. We are thankful for this institution’s support and interest in making more transparent the European-level discourse about mobility windows.

Executive summary

Executive summary This study was produced with the financial support of the European Commission by a consortium of three organisations – the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), the DZHW (Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, formerly HIS-HF) and the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO). It is the final report of the MOWIN project – “Mapping mobility windows in European higher education. Examples from selected countries” coordinated by ACA and implemented between October 2011 and September 2013.

The theme of this study is the phenomenon of mobility windows. The aim of the study is threefold: (i) to introduce a definition of mobility windows; (ii) to create a typology of mobility windows that reflects a variety of practices and models in the European higher education context; and (iii) to explore how different types of mobility windows are implemented in selected countries and institutions. The above-mentioned goals were reached by means of desk research and consultations with experts and practitioners, as well as a series of site visits to programmes with mobility windows in selected countries. Based on the three major research lines, the study makes recommendations both in terms of general practical advice for the design and running of mobility windows and for institutional and policy decision-making about mobility windows.

This publication consists of three parts. The first – conceptual – part articulates the definition and typology of mobility windows. The second – empirical – part explores how mobility windows are set up and implemented in real life, by looking at the challenges that occur at different stages of a mobility window’s life cycle and showcasing the identified solutions and best practices. The third – concluding – part summarises the conceptual and empirical analyses, by reflecting on the impact and implications of the matter under inquiry and by offering a set of general recommendations for practitioners and policy-makers.

Introduction (chapter 1) This chapter introduces the European policy discussion on mobility windows and presents the research approach adopted in the MOWIN project.

Policy context and project rationale International student mobility has become a central concern of higher education policy in Europe over the past decades. While ERASMUS has helped reduce several mobility obstacles, typical student exchange programmes often display certain limitations, e.g. in terms of recognition. Study programmes with structurally integrated mobility, which have existed in some cases since Mobility Windows: From Concept to Practice the 1960s, have lately been re-discovered as “mobility windows” in the context of a European political debate on increasing mobility volumes. The relatively new and somewhat inflationary use of the term “mobility window” has opened up a lively, but at times confusing debate about the issue at hand.

The lack of a precise, commonly agreed definition of a mobility window has prompted the MOWIN project to fill in this conceptual gap.

Project approach

The conceptual framework, which entails the definition and an elaborated typology of mobility windows, was based on desk research and the empirical analysis of 32 Bachelor’s and Master’s study programmes from selected countries (Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Romania). Next, the elaborated framework was tested via expert consultations and an online survey of almost 100 international coordinators at higher education institutions in more than 20 countries in Europe. It was then applied to analyse the issues related to the implementation of mobility windows in real life.

Part 1. Mobility windows: conceptual framework Review and definition of the term mobility windows (chapter 2) The literature review reveals that the idea of a mobility window has been present in the European policy discourse over the last years.

However, despite frequent references to this concept in practice, no shared understanding of the notion has emerged in the literature. While the term is a European invention, mobility windows are often perceived as forms of curricular integration of mobility and, therefore, come closest to integrated study programmes developed in the US several decades ago. The lack of scientific and political consensus about the definition of mobility windows creates a need for delineating the borders of this phenomenon. For this purpose, the following definition of mobility windows is proposed.

A mobility window is a period of time reserved for international student mobility that is embedded into the curriculum of a study programme.

Curricular embeddedness is defined by two criteria. Firstly, the foreseen mobility period is an explicit part of the home curriculum and study plan. The latter detail at which point in the programme students have to, should or can go abroad and for how long.

–  –  –

The type of student mobility facilitated by a mobility window is physical and beyond national borders.

A mobility window is shorter than the degree it is embedded into.

Types of mobility windows (chapter 3) Based on the elaborated definition of mobility windows, the two most important characteristics of mobility windows are identified: (a) the status of a mobility window (mandatory or optional) within the study programme and (b) the degree of curricular standardisation of the mobility experience facilitated through a window (highly-prescribed or loosely-prescribed). These two attributes form the backbone of the typolgy of mobility windows, which reflects different degrees of integration of mobility windows into study programmes

and incorporates four major types (two ‘extrema’ and two hybrid types):

• optional windows with loosely-prescribed content (Op-Lop) – the most flexible type of windows;

• mandatory mobility windows with highly-prescribed content (Ma-Hip) – the most structured type of mobility windows;

• mandatory windows with loosely-prescribed content (Ma-Lop) – more rigid in terms of the mobility experience and more flexible in terms of content; and

• optional windows with highly-prescribed content (Op-Hip) – more flexible in terms of the mobility experience and more rigid in terms of content.

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