Tag Archives: David Willetts

Erasmus at 25

Erasmus at 25

Celebrating 25 years of European student mobility

Storified by Antonia Mochan · Fri, May 18 2012 09:42:56

Almost exactly 20 eyars ago, I got on a ferry and headed off to the Netherlands to spend 4 months at the University of Leiden on an Erasmus exchange. I had classes there with Hungarians, Belgians, Spaniards, Danes, Americans and those are just the ones I can remember. Yesterday the British Council, the UK national agency for the Erasmus programme, held a birthday party to celebrate this landmark and highlight the importance of the programme.
25th-anniversary – british coucnil- erasmusNearly three million students from across Europe have benefited from a study period or work placement abroad since the creation of the Er…
Love the typo! We started with Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council, who highlighted the importance of global education for UK prosperity.
This is so true: "The Erasmus generation is the generation which will give us a competitive edge." Martin DavidsonLizzie Fane
He also gave us the numbers for the programme:
925 in first year, more than 12000 last year, 200k brits over life. better degrees, career prospects, lifetime earnings. #erasmus25Antonia Mochan
But it wasn’t all about dwelling on success, but looking to the future
davidson: challenge is building for the future. get business on board. help students understand the benefits. #erasmus25Antonia Mochan
Then David Willetts, the Universities Minister spoke and it was good to hear a government minister extolling the virtues of a European programme.
Willetts. #erasmus25 changing lives, opening minds. unis benefit from stronger links overseas. businesses value knowledge of other culturesAntonia Mochan
He also announced that it had been agreed to fund a 15% fee waiver for students studying abroad during their degree
BIS media information for journalists and the press – Press Releases – Report recommends measures to support and increase outward UK student mobility – BISThe report by Professor Colin Riordan, Chair of the UK HE International Unit, looks at the incentives and obstacles to students studying …
Then it was over to participants. Annette Strauss of the University of Surrey had been involved from early on and spoke a bit about the background, including the difficulties of multi-country partnerships in the days before email :) She also made a point that I think we need to pick up on in the representation
Strauss: UK could make more use of staff exchanges. #erasmus25Antonia Mochan
Any thoughts about how to do so are very welcome!

Next up was Lizzie Fane of Third Year Abroad.

Make the most of your time away with our latest info, help and advice for year abroad students… – Third Year AbroadThe complete resource for university students before, during and after their year abroad, including case studies, language help, Erasmus …
If anyone at the #erasmus25 event wants to read the graduate career case studies I mentioned, check out http://www.thirdyearabroad.com/graduates :)Lizzie Fane
Angela Pearce was an alumna from the very first year and talked about coach travel, phone cards and waiting for letter from home, which brought back some memories!

Julia Kennedy from Robert Gordon University spoke about the value of the staff exchanges, telling the story of an academic who told his students not to do Erasmus as it was bad for their degrees. Then he did a staff exchange and, like Saul on the road to Damascus, everything changed and now he is one of the biggest fans in the university.

Last of the alumni was Muhammed Abbas Abdulla from Queen Mary University
muhammed abbas abdulla, recent alum. split Germany & Spain. Don’t prepare, let it happen. live daily life, just somewhere else #erasmus25Antonia Mochan
Last up was Steven Beswick of Microsoft.
Beswick: intl experience vital to showing 6 core attributes microsoft looks for eg honesty, integrity, self-awareness, openness #erasmus25Antonia Mochan
He told the recent story of two candidates, one with a first from Oxford , the other with a 2:1 from non-Oxbridge. But the skills that the non-Oxbridge candidate had, enhanced by their Erasmus experience, swung them the job.

Speeches over, we then got on with the fun bit – eating the cake!

Oh wow – check out Erasmus’s 25th birthday cake!!! http://instagr.am/p/Kuq01MlLtR/Lizzie Fane

A busy few weeks

Over the last few weeks I feel I have hardly had a chance to draw breath and though at various times I’ve thought “I’ll blog about that”, events always passed me by. I’ve got a bit of time now at the end of the last day before I head off on a couple of weeks leave, so I’ll try to remember some of the points I was going to make.

I was in Brussels for a few days at the start of what will be known as the March Marathon, and one of the reasons was to do a workshop (well, 2, but they were the same) on using social media for Europe Direct Information Centres. While they receive some funding from the Commission for their information activities, they are  individual organisations, and their form ranges from NGOs or Community interest companies, to library services or regional government. So their needs vary and their flexibility to act independently does too. I did a presentation, then asked Europe Direct Leeds to show what they do, then gave them some time to discuss in small groups, share their own experiences, then a few of those in the room showed what they were doing. It was interesting to see how differently they were using the same tools, but there were enough ideas to share, and I’ve already nicked one from Europe Direct Ulm, using the Timeline feature on Facebook to show EU milestones. I was a bit worried about the pedagogical side of running a workshop, but the feedback has been good, so I think I got away with it :)

I then headed back to the UK to do a careers talk at Leicester University. This was a repeat invite (always a compliment to be asked back) and this time instead of just the Modern Languages Department, it was advertised across the university. There were about 60 students there I think and after my presentation, there were lots of lively questions. I’m always slightly perplexed at these events by the weight of interest among the students on internships, rather than the full-time, long-term career prospects offered by applying for the concours. I wonder why that is. It could be that they aren’t interested in the EU as a long-term career, but see EU knowledge as important for other things. Or it could be that they are so fixated on internships as a route into work they miss the turning for the work itself. Frankly it feels a bit more like the latter, though I’d be happy to be corrected on that.

The next day was a Saturday and just to add to the madness of those few weeks, it was the second of my two Open University tutorials. I’ve enjoyed the creative writing course, but I don’t think you’ll be reading my name in the Booker Prize longlist any time soon…

Then on the Sunday it was off to Manchester for the Apeldoorn conference, which brings together Dutch and UK people from across business and society. The theme this time was Higher Education at the Heart of Growth and we had some excellent speakers, including the Universities Minister, David Willetts. Apeldoorn is really great for the people you meet, on your own “side” as much as from over the North Sea, with some really useful contacts made for the future. I also had a #technologywin: with the purchase of one little VGA adaptor I was able to present the conclusions of the workshop for which I was rapporteur direct from my iPad. Just a further example of how my iPad has become the kernel of a mobile office as far as I’m concerned.

The day after I got back from Manchester it was off to Birmingham for the Education Show. Our stall was pretty mobbed, with the Passport to the European Union and Languages Take You Further publications particularly popular. Thousands of people passed through our stall over the three days, and not one was critical or hostile in any way, in fact they were on the whole delighted with the support, particularly for the languages. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the introduction of languages in primary schools, it seems pretty clear that there are many teachers who feel a bit lost and are glad to have ideas of what to do. Obviously we provide pretty bland material, click the links to see them for yourself, and it’s completely up to teachers how they want to use them in their classrooms.

I’ve been back in London since then, but out at some really interesting events. I Storified the Westminster Media Forum event on press regulation. I chaired a fascinating afternoon linked to the European Year of Active Ageing, in which the Greater London Forum for Older People got about 120 of their members together to hear about the cooperation that Enfield over-50s Forum has been doing with twin towns in France and Germany. I was roped in the afternoon before to chair the event as the chair dropped out, and I’m very glad I did, as it was fascinating. One thing that came out very clearly was the strength of attachment to the Freedom Pass. Many older people see it as a lifeline, getting them out of the house and allowing them to have a social life, thereby keeping them healthy both physically and mentally. Mess with it at your peril, Mayor of London, whoever you end up being.

The final noteworthy events took place on the same day. I was representing the office at the British Academy event on the value of a year abroad, and you can read my tweets about it by searching the #yrabroad hashtag. There was a lot of talk about the usefulness of social media in getting students interested in a year abroad, but precious little social media going on at the event. Lizzie Fane at Third Year Abroad is an honourable exception in terms of her use of social media, but I have to admit that there was probably an age thing going on, which is as worrying in its own way. 100% of the students that took part in Lizzie’s graduate survey said their time spent abroad during their degree had been worth it, but the average age in the room of people talking about the policy aspects must have been pushing 50 plus.

While I was at the British Academy, and mainly during the lunch break, I took part in a Q&A on the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network about how charities can access EU funding. The Q&A is here and the best bits summed up here. The Guardian does these Q&As very well; I’ve previously done one on languages for careers and there was another on a similar theme this week.

Anyway, after all that and judging the UACES/ThomsonReuters Reporting Europe Prize, I think I’ve earned my two weeks away. So I’m off. Have a great Easter, everyone.

Coming week – 7 to 13 February

It’s a busy one, with several Commissioners in town

Monday 7 February

Commissioner Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) is in London at the Business for New Europe seminar “Building a Digitial Single Market”

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science) is in London, meeting the UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington and making a speech at the Royal Society

Foreign and Commonwealth Office launches a new website highlighting the opportunities for careers in the EU

Tuesday 8 February

Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski (Financial Programming and Budget) visit London and addresses the House of Lords European Select Committee

Commissioner John Dalli (Health and Consumer Policy) meets President of Diageo Europe Andrew Morgan in Brussels

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science) meets Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell in Brussels

Commissioner Maria Damanaki (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and Commissioner Connie Hedegaard (Climate Action) meet the Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change Rosetta Cunningham in Brussels.

Wednesday 9 February

HRH the Prince of Wales attends the International Sustainability Roundtable in Brussels, hosted by Commission Presidency José-Manuel Barroso

BBC Director General Mark Thompson meets Commissioner Androulla Vassilliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) in Brussels. Also meets Commissioner Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services) on 10 February

Opening of Mimicry, an exhibition of 3D fashion photographs from Slovenia at Europe House, Smith Square

Thursday 10 February

Commissioner Gunther Oettinger (Energy) visits London, where he meets the Minister for Europe David Lidington, Minister for Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendy and makes a speech at the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security of King’s College London

Friday 11 February

Commissioner László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) is in London, speaking at the conference “What future for Europe? What role should the UK play?”

Commissioner Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services) meets the Chairman of the UK Financial Services authority Lord Adair Turner in Brussels.

Coming week to 18 July

A round-up of UK-relevant issues on the Commission’s calendar for next week. Usual caveats apply.

12 July: Commissioner Vassiliou in London, meets David Willetts and Nick Gibb, Department for Education

12 July: European Commission to propose package to boost consumer confidence in financial services

13 July: Commissioner Geoghan-Quinn meets Reg Empey of the Ulster Unionist Party

13 July: Commission to publish a report on free movement of workers

13 July: EPSO to launch recruitment competition for English language translators (other languages as well, see EU careers for details)

13 July: Commission makes a new proposal on GMO cultivation

14 July: Commissioner Hedegaard in London, meets Chris Huhne, SoS for Energy and Climate Change. Speech at the International Climate Leadership Network

14 July: Commissioners meet representatives of the oil and gas industry to discuss safety following the Gulf of Mexico leak

15 July: Commissioner Ashton visits Georgia

15 July: Theresa May, Home Secretary and Ken Clark, SoS for Justice, visit Commissioner Reding in Brussels. Ken Clark also visits Commissioner Fule

15 July: Commissioner Piebalgs in London,participates at the launch of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade report; meets with SG of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma; meets Andrew Mitchell, SoS for International Development

15 July: Launch of new portal to help with cross-border civil justice procedures

16 July: Commissioner Ashton in Kazakhstan for OSCE Ministerial meeting

17-19 July: Commissioner Ashton visits the Middle East