“They Just Signed and Stamped Papers”
Understanding the Erasmus Student Experiences
Keywords:student mobility, Erasmus, mobility preparation, institutional support, higher education
Erasmus mobility has become an important feature of higher education in Europe and beyond, with the potential to generate significant changes at individual, institutional and systemic levels. More than three decades after the foundation of this successful program, evaluations reveal that, despite notable progress, several aspects of the Erasmus student experience can be further improved. Based on the lived experiences of Erasmus alumni, in this article, we explore recurrent challenges that emerge in educational mobility and how they could be better addressed. Three key dimensions are identified in the qualitative accounts of former Erasmus students and analyzed in light of previous research: mobility preparation, institutional support for integration, and recognition of study abroad.
Bartram, B. (2008). Supporting international students in higher education: Constructions, cultures and clashes. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(6), 657-668. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510802452384 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510802452384
Bartram, B. (2009). Student support in higher education: Understandings, implications and challenges. Higher Education Quarterly, 63(3), 308-314. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2273.2008.00420.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2273.2008.00420.x
Beaven, A., & Livatino, L. (2015). Language and intercultural education for mobility: Insight from the IEREST project. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 1(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.14706/JFLTAL151318 DOI: https://doi.org/10.14706/JFLTAL151318
Beerkens, M., Souto-Otero, M., de Wit, H., & Huisman, J. (2016). Similar students and different countries? An analysis of the barriers and drivers for Erasmus participation in seven countries. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(2), 184-204. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315315595703 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315315595703
Bracht, O., Engel, C., Janson, K., Over, A., Schomburg, H., & Teichler, U. (2006). The professional value of Erasmus mobility: Final report. International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER); University of Kassel.
Brassier-Rodrigues, C. (2020). On the way to value international and intercultural experiences: PREPAMOBIE at the heart of student mobility. In I. Sirkeci & M. Alili (Eds.), The migration conference 2020 proceedings: Migration and integration (pp. 43-46). Transnational Press.
Bunescu, L., Davies, H., & Gaebel, M. (2020). Erasmus+ international credit mobility: A study of the mobility of disadvantaged students from partner countries. SPHERE. http://supporthere.org/sites/default/files/sphere_icm_report_final.pdf
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. Oxford University Press.
Byram, M., & Dervin, F. (Eds.). (2009). Students, staff and academic mobility in higher education. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Carlson, S., Eigmüller, M., & Lueg, K. (2018). Education, Europeanization and Europe’s social integration. An introduction. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 31(4), 395-405. https://doi.org/10.1080/13511610.2018.1550388 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13511610.2018.1550388
Carroll, J., & Ryan, J. (2007). Teaching international students: Improving learning for all. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203696132
Chan, A., Liu, J., Fung, K., Tsang, P., & Yuen, J. (2018). Pre-departure preparation and co-curricular activities for students’ intercultural exchange: A mixed-methods study. Nurse Education Today, 63, 43-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2018.01.020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2018.01.020
Chang, W.-W., Yuan, Y.-H., & Chuang, Y.-T. (2013). The relationship between international experience and cross-cultural adaptability. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(2), 268-273. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2012.08.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2012.08.002
Chao, M., Kung, F., & Yao, D. (2015). Understanding the divergent effects of multicultural exposure. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 47, 78-88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.032 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.032
Council of the European Union. (2018a). Council recommendation of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning. Official Journal of the European Union, 2018/C 189/01. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32018H0604(01)&from=EN
Council of the European Union. (2018b). Council recommendation of 26 November 2018 on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education and training qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad. EUR-Lex. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32018H1210(01)
Dalichow, F. (1987). Academic recognition within the European Community. European Journal of Education, 22(1), 39-58. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1503189
Engel, C. (2010). The impact of Erasmus mobility on the professional career: Empirical results of international studies on temporary student and teaching staff mobility. Belgeo, 4, 351-363. https://doi.org/10.4000/belgeo.6399 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/belgeo.6399
European Commission. (1997). The ERASMUS experience: Major findings of the ERASMUS evaluation research project. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
European Commission. (2014). The Erasmus impact study: Effects of mobility on the skills and employability of students and the internationalisation of higher education institutions. Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/75468
European Commission. (2015). Erasmus: Facts, figures & trends: The European Union support for student and staff exchanges and university cooperation in 2013-2014. Publications Office.
European Commission. (2018a). Combined evaluation of Erasmus+ and predecessor programmes: Final report: Main evaluation report (Volume 1). Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/945765
European Commission. (2018b). Strengthening European identity through education and culture. Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2775/332330
European Commission. (2019a). Erasmus+ annual report 2017. Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/465575
European Commission. (2019b). Erasmus+ higher education impact study. Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/184038
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. (2020). The European higher education area in 2020: Bologna process implementation report. Publications Office. https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2797/851121
Fang, W., Clarke, A., & Wei, Y. (2016). Empty success or brilliant failure: An analysis of Chinese students’ study abroad experience in a collaborative Master of Education program. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(2), 140-163. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315315587106 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315315587106
Golubeva, I., Gómez Parra, M., & Espejo Mohedano, R. (2018). What does ‘active citizenship’ mean for Erasmus students? Intercultural Education, 29(1), 40-58. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2017.1404741 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2017.1404741
Gresham, R., & Clayton, V. (2011). Community connections: A programme to enhance domestic and international students’ educational experience. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(4), 363-374. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2011.585736 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2011.585736
Gu, Q. (2005). “Enjoy loneliness”: Understanding voices of “the” Chinese learner. Humanising Language Teaching, 7(6), Article 6. http://old.hltmag.co.uk/nov05/mart01.htm
Guardado, M., & Tsushima, R. (2021). Global jinzai and short-term study abroad. In S. Schecter & C. James (Eds.), Critical approaches toward a cosmopolitan education (Chapter 11). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429327780 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429327780-14
Hernández, M. (2019). Living abroad: Irish Erasmus students experiences’ of integration in Spain. In M. Carmo (Ed.), Education applications & developments IV (pp. 63-72). inSciencePress.
Hessel, G. (2021). Self-efficacy in managing intercultural interactions as an outcome of participation in the Erasmus programme: Evidence from German exchange students in the UK. In R. Mitchell & H. Tyne (Eds.), Language, mobility and study abroad in the contemporary European context (pp. 117-135). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003087953-9
Khanal, J., & Gaulee, U. (2019). Challenges of international students from predeparture to post-study: A literature review. Journal of International Students, 9(2), 560-581. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v9i2.673 DOI: https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v9i2.673
Mizikaci, F., & Arslan, Z. (2019). A European perspective in academic mobility: A case of Erasmus program. Journal of International Students, 9(2), 705-726. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v9i2.1138 DOI: https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v9i2.1138
Montgomery, C. (2009). A decade of internationalisation: Has it influenced students’ views of cross-cultural group work at university? Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), 256-270. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315308329790 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315308329790
Montgomery, C., & McDowell, L. (2009). Social networks and the international student experience: An international community of practice? Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(4), 455-466. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315308321994 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315308321994
Nada, C. I., Montgomery, C., & Araújo, H. C. (2018). ‘You went to Europe and returned different’: Transformative learning experiences of international students in Portugal. European Educational Research Journal, 17(5), 696–713. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474904118765334 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474904118765334
Nada, C. I., & Araújo, H. C. (2019). ‘When you welcome students without borders, you need a mentality without borders’ internationalisation of higher education: Evidence from Portugal. Studies in Higher Education, 44(9), 1591–1604. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2018.1458219 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2018.1458219
Nada, C. I., & Legutko, J. (2022). “Maybe we did not learn that much academically, but we learn more from experience”–Erasmus mobility and its potential for transformative learning. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 87, 183-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2022.03.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2022.03.002
Osborne, D. (2012). Factors in international student identity formation: Processes and challenges. Sino-US English Teaching, 4, 1035-1044. DOI:10.17265/1539-8072/2012.04.001
Otten, M. (2003). Intercultural learning and diversity in higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7(1), 12-26. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315302250177 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315302250177
Parnther, C. (2022). International students and academic misconduct: Considering culture, community, and context. Journal of College and Character, 23(1), 60-75. https://doi.org/10.1080/2194587X.2021.2017978 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2194587X.2021.2017978
Penman, C., & Ratz, S. (2015). A module-based approach to foster and document the intercultural process before and during the residence abroad. Intercultural Education, 26(1), 49-61. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.993529 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.993529
Perez-Encinas, A., Rodriguez-Pomeda, J., & Josek, M. (2017). Problematic areas of host university support services for short-term mobility students. Journal of International Students, 7(4), 1030-1047. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v7i4.189 DOI: https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v7i4.189
Qadeer, T., Javed, M., Manzoor, A., Wu, M., & Zaman, S. (2021). The experience of international students and institutional recommendations: A comparison between the students from the developing and developed regions. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.667230 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.667230
Reichert, S. (2009). Institutional diversity in European higher education. European University Association.
Rienties, B., & Tempelaar, D. (2013). The role of cultural dimensions of international and Dutch students on academic and social integration and academic performance in the Netherlands. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(2), 188-201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2012.11.004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2012.11.004
Rienties, B., Beausaert, S., Grohnert, T., Niemantsverdriet, S., & Kommers, P. (2012). Understanding academic performance of international students: The role of ethnicity, academic and social integration. Higher Education, 63, 685-700. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-011-9468-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-011-9468-1
Rienties, B., Grohnert, T., Kommers, P., Niemantsverdriet, S., & Nijhuis, J. (2011). Academic and social integration of international and local students at five business schools, a cross-institutional comparison. In P. Van den Bossche, W. Gijselaers, & R. Milter (Eds.), Building learning experiences in a changing world: Advances in business education and training (Vol. 3, pp. 121-137). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0802-0_8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0802-0_8
Rizvi, F. (2011). Theorizing student mobility in an era of globalization. Teachers and Teaching, 17(6), 693-701. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.625145 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.625145
Schoe, Y., Van Mol, C., & Buynsters, M. (2022). Contextual factors that enable and restrain social network formation of Dutch Erasmus+ students. Journal of International Students, 12(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.32674/jis.v12i1.3143 DOI: https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v12i1.3143
Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis. In U. Flick (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis (pp. 170-183). SAGE. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446282243.n12
Shaw, J. (2009). The diversity paradox: Does student diversity enhance or challenge excellence? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 33(4), 321-331. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098770903266018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03098770903266018
Sigalas, E. (2010). Cross-border mobility and European identity: The effectiveness of intergroup contact during the ERASMUS year abroad. European Union Politics, 11(2), 241-265. https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116510363656 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1465116510363656
Smith, R., & Khawaja, N. (2011). A review of the acculturation experiences of international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(6), 699-713. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.08.004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.08.004
Souto-Otero, M., Huisman, J., Beerkens, M., De Wit, H., & Vujić, S. (2013). Barriers to international student mobility: Evidence from the Erasmus program. Educational Researcher, 42(2), 70-77. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X12466696 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X12466696
Taylor, G., & Ali, N. (2017). Learning and living overseas: Exploring factors that influence meaningful learning and assimilation: How international students adjust to studying in the UK from a socio-cultural perspective. Education Sciences, 7(1), 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci7010035 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci7010035
Teichler, U. (1996). Student mobility in the framework of ERASMUS: Findings of an evaluation study. European Journal of Education, 31(2), 153-179.
Teichler, U. (2004). Temporary study abroad: The life of ERASMUS students. European Journal of Education, 39(4), 395-408. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-3435.2004.00193.x
Toyokawa, T., & Toyokawa, N. (2002). Extracurricular activities and the adjustment of Asian international students: A study of Japanese students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26(4), 363-379. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-1767(02)00010-X DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-1767(02)00010-X
Vande Berg, M., Connor-Linton, J., & Paige, R. (2009). The Georgetown consortium project: Interventions for student learning abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 18(1), 1-75. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v18i1.251 DOI: https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v18i1.251
Wilson, I. (2011). What should we expect of ‘Erasmus generations’? JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 49(5), 1113-1140. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5965.2010.02158.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5965.2010.02158.x
Yung-Chi Hou, A., Morse, R., & Wang, W. (2017). Recognition of academic qualifications in transnational higher education and challenges for recognizing a joint degree in Europe and Asia. Studies in Higher Education, 42(7), 1211-1228. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1085010 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1085010
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Journal of International Students
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
All published articles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported License.