Guiding Questions for your Erasmus Plan

In the last of three posts, Elva Duggan from our Programme Support and Development Team offers advice for organisations writing an Erasmus Plan. This is based on guidance in Go International: a practical guide on strategic internationalisation in Vocational Education and Training.”

To help organisations develop and write an Erasmus Plan, we previously brought your attention to the guide “Go International”. This guide was developed by the Finnish Erasmus+ National Agency and supported by a team of representatives from the Danish, Dutch, Hungarian and German Erasmus+ National Agencies in VET.

 The first post outlined a simplified model of strategic planning as developed by the authors:

 

The second post looked at using this model to help map your 'strategy journey'.

This post looks at some questions and guidance developed by the authors to address each area.

Operating Environment

  • What changes foreseen in the operating environment should you consider?
  • How will the international dimension affect jobs and skills requirements in the future?
  • What kinds of jobs will new graduates have in the future and where?
  • What is the state of internationalisation in different fields of vocational education and training?
  • How do you take national and EU objectives for internationalisation into account?

Strategic Planning

  • Key topics for an internationalising VET institution are networking, cooperation with workplaces and industry, core staff skills, project planning and execution, and an ability to operate strategically, both internally and externally.
  • Different sectors need different internationalisation approaches at different stages: strategic partnerships, staff mobility, student mobility or other cooperation and development projects.
  • Professional skills, both for students and staff, should include the ability to operate in multicultural environments.
  • English is often the internal working language of multinational companies, but the need to know other languages is also increasing.
  • Skills such as curiosity, productivity and resilience, which are also linked to international skills, are increasingly needed in working life.
  • It is necessary to be able to provide services to customers or clients from different cultures in more and more jobs. Also, the target groups in the public sector are becoming more and more multicultural.
  • To work in global business requires not only language skills, but also an ability to operate in different working cultures. 

Vision

  • How can the training institution become more modern and attractive in the future?
  • What does this mean for students and staff in practice?
  • What kind of national and international networks should you be able to create to fulfil such a vision?

 Take into account that the international dimension in the vision can mean, for example:

  • Covering the globe: Establishing strategic geographical priority areas across the world for building global networks for both cooperation and mobility projects.
  • Accounting for a diversifying society: Multiculturalism is an area of development that permeates all operations.
  • Providing multinational companies with the skills needed: Establishing strategic partnerships based on certain sectors/ qualifications with companies that have factories or units in several European countries.
  • Giving students and staff more international opportunities: Expanding international activities to new regions.
  • Providing the international skills of the future: Many students will be employed in international businesses or multi-cultural workplaces. 

Core Skills

  • How is the international dimension included in your mission?
  • What are the internationally focused core skills of your organisation?

Mission

  • Your organisation may be training international experts in certain key topics.
  • The sectors you are serving may need to develop their qualifications in multinational contexts.
  • You may be training immigrants and refugees.
  • Your staff may be multicultural.
  • The aim of your training may be to get your students employed in international companies, export businesses or qualified for multicultural workplaces.

 Values

  • How do the organisation’s value manifest in the processes of international activities in practice?
  • How do the organisation’s value manifest in the day-to-day work of staff who work with international affairs?

 The authors advocate taking into account what values mean when, for example:

  • The requirements of different sectors need to be balanced.
  • You listen to students' wishes when you select countries for your international networks (student orientation).
  • You involve different stakeholders in the strategy process.
  • You give different nationalities the opportunity to express their cultures (tolerance, equality).
  • You try to develop forms of international cooperation that are accessible to weaker students, underage students or students with socio-economic issues, etc.Front cover of Go International guide

 Goals  

To develop strategically-focused goals the authors advise asking the question “why”. For example:

What is our goal? To internationalise our institution.
Why do we want this? Because the businesses in our area need a workforce with skills to work internationally.
Strategically-focused goal: To provide every student with international skills, either through mobility or the regular curricula, so that we can cater to the skills needs in our area.

 

The authors advise that there are no right or wrong answers, but that they must be based on the real situation, mission and vision of each VET provider. Also, every goal should be linked to an expected output, outcome or impact that is traced with a quantitative or qualitative indicator.

 They propose considering:

  • How the international dimension manifests itself in the general strategy goals of your organisation, even if the topic is perhaps not directly mentioned?
  • What specific goals should be set to fulfil the vision of your organisation in international operations?
  • How do we make sure that goals are both realistic and visionary enough?

 They also state that organisations should take into account:

  • The perspectives of students, staff and management.
  • The business and working life perspective.
  • This doesn't only cover mobility. The development of qualifications, curricula, content and methods is central to a well-diversified internationalisation.
  • The key issues: language skills, the ability to operate in multicultural work environments and knowledge of different cultures all need to be covered.
  • Internationalisation is not only about international business, language learning and intercultural skills. It is also about giving students and staff lifelong learning skills, future-proof transversal skills and equipping them for globalisation.
  • Goals can also be related to the operations: improving the quality and efficiency of the cooperation with current partner countries, extending your current network, making more efficient mobility procedures or better preparations for mobility, increasing the number of sectors, departments or teachers involved.

 Action Plan  

  • What measures should you take to achieve your internationalisation goals?
  • What measures can already be taken in the coming year? What measures need to be covered over several years?
  • Are there alternative measures that can be taken to achieve the same goal?
  • Which national and international partners are needed to carry out this work?
  • Where will the funding and human resources come from for the planned international work?

 Typical action points may include:

  • To meet the targets set for language skills development in the next year, we need to e.g. arrange 20 student and teacher exchanges with countries where the relevant languages are spoken.
  • We will implement a strategic partnership with a higher education institution to increase cross-sectoral international cooperation.
  • We will start working together with Norway next year and will later extend cooperation to all Nordic countries.
  • We will reserve specialist expertise resources in all departments in order to implement at least two new strategic partnerships and/or other international development projects.
  • We will improve the preparation materials and dedicated coursework for our students going on a mobility abroad.

 Léargas would like to thank the Finnish National Agency for Education, for leading the development and co-ordination of this document.