By Hannah Worringer, Quality Assurance Officer, ENHANCE Alliance
As part the European Universities Initiative, we wholeheartedly support the development of new mobility formats that foster the free exchange of knowledge, resources, and expertise. Our mission as an Alliance of European Universities of Technology focuses on promoting innovation, diversity, and excellence in higher education across Europe. While we reflect on our three years of experience, we aim to share our learnings and discuss the future of mobility formats in higher education, emphasising the key element of customisation.
CUSTOMISATION: THREE BUILDING BLOCKS
Customisation, for us, involves three fundamental building blocks for student and staff mobility pathways: combinable learning contents, the use of technology, and an emphasis on inclusion. By addressing these elements, we can create enriching mobility experiences for all our participants – ranging from students to staff members and lifelong learners.
Combinable Learning Contents
Our newly adopted European Education Pathways framework allows us to provide ENHANCE Master and Bachelor students with a diverse selection of pre-recognised courses. Understanding the different approaches to credit recognition from abroad, we strive for a competence-based assessment of learning outcomes, reducing the administrative burden for our participants. Pre-designed pathways are crafted to include MOOCs and soft skills courses as well, thereby ensuring these shorter elements are anchored in longer formats to create a lasting impact. Cohorts of students can follow these pathways together, fostering a sense of cohesion and community that is defined by shared interests.
We are also excited to explore the European Degree Label through our successful participation in the Erasmus+ call for policy experimentation in higher education. Additional labelling of our joint offers also supports our focus on the integration of soft and transferrable skills in engineering and technology educations. Moreover, our approach fosters cooperation between universities, opening doors for joint research and teaching activities.
Use of Technology
Technology is a powerful tool that connects our ENHANCE students and staff even when resources and travel opportunities are limited, enabling virtual mobilities and digital exchange. Our online catalogue features a variety of course offerings, including micro-credentials and other (stackable) certificate programmes. Our goal is to continuously expand our portfolio of online offers taught in English, through integration of existing courses and through development of unique ENHANCE offers. In the future, we also intend to explore the use of virtual reality (VR) to create interactive learning formats, transcending geographical barriers virtually. We believe this option has the potential to serve as a gateway to physical mobility experiences as well – for example through piloting via a Blended Intensive Programme.
Furthermore, we prioritise the implementation of digital tools like Moodle-based learning management systems and verifiable credentials to streamline our administration and credit recognition processes, making mobilities more efficient and accessible. For us, it is crucial to build a secure digital infrastructure to make the most of customisation.
Emphasis on Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are essential to the success of our mobility initiatives. We aim to diversify our target groups, making mobility offers accessible to students with varying financial opportunities and those with caregiving or other responsibilities. Our “Mobilities for All” online tool shall continue to provide our participants with information on peer networks, local support, and additional budget. This facilitates the successful organisation of a stay abroad for those with additional needs who may currently be underrepresented in traditional mobilities.
Inclusivity is also extended to our staff members and lifelong learners through offers such as the ENHANCE Staff Weeks. We aim to expand our portfolio of offers that invite non-traditional learners. We will continue to work on the provision of platforms for all university staff from all backgrounds to exchange ideas and discuss topics related to personal and professional development. So far, these range from innovative learning environments to skills for an intercultural workplace, and we are excited to explore the topics of well-being and the pursuit of diverse career paths as well.
The ENHANCE Alliance commitment to customising mobility formats in higher education has so far allowed us to take important first steps towards broadening the horizons of our stakeholders and preparing them for the challenges of a globalised world. With our continued focus on combinable learning contents, the use of technology, and inclusion, we are working towards creating enriching and diverse mobility experiences that cater to the needs and aspirations of all our participants.
As we move forward, we remain dedicated to promoting strategic partnerships and fostering strong international ties. By leveraging the power of customisation, we aim to explore further student and staff mobilities, setting new standards for excellence in higher education across Europe.