The Erasmus Plan and Your Strategy Journey

In the second 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, in the first part of this series we introduced a simplified model of strategic planning.  In this post, we’ll look at the actions needed to embark on developing an Erasmus Plan, or strategy journey, as well as key areas that are essential for successful implementation of such a strategy.

 

The Strategy Journey


The authors have based the eight steps below on years of work with internationalisation strategies among the Erasmus+ National Agencies involved in the production of the guide.
 

  1. Map your existing internationalisation activities, projects and possible strategic documents to date. Draw a timeline of the developments achieved so far, together with the major milestones.
  1. Analyse the operational environment and broader strategies. Make a table of institutional, regional, national, sectoral and European strategies and documents guiding your work.
  1. Understand the core skills present in your organisation. Carry out a small survey of the staff and their international experience and skills.
  1. Examine the mission and values in your organisation from the viewpoint of internationalisation.
  1. Formulate the vision for your internationalisation strategy with all actors and stakeholders, considering the existing activities, the operational environment, the mission and values, and the core skills. Arrange a small workshop with colleagues to discuss where you are right now, and where you would like to be in 5 or 10 years with your internationalisation.
  1. Set the strategic goals in support of your vision for the international activities in such a way that students, staff and the working environment can relate to them. 
  1. Decide on an action plan for at least the first year, including deciding on roles, dividing tasks, budgeting and setting indicators for the key strategic goals. Do this in regular meetings with your colleagues. Not all the tasks have to be ready straightaway. 
  1. Communicate both the strategy process and the strategic decisions to all actors and stakeholders throughout the process for maximum commitment.

    Front cover of Go International guide

 

Underpinnnings of the Strategy Journey

  • Strategy process: The kind of strategy process one builds very much determines the success and results of that process. A process built around knowing your own mission and operating environment, with a good balance of being realistic and visionary, and involving everyone in co-creation and ownership of the process, seems to produce the best results. 
  • Cooperation with the world of work: The strategy process and internationalisation at large often lacks direct input from the world of work. Even if views are considered in other more indirect ways, it would be beneficial in VET institutions if the views of the world of work and business were to directly influence the strategy and actions taken.
  • Qualifications, curricula and pedagogics: These are the key access points to larger impacts and a deeper implementation within the VET system. The qualifications and/or curricula direct a great number of the processes taking place within VET institutions, thus creating a crucial link between them and internationalisation. It also reminds each teacher of the role that internationalisation plays. 
  • Role of management: The management must lead the strategy process and at the same time involve teachers and staff at large for a strategy to be successful. The international team should also include a representative from management. 
  • Practical implementation: Finally, any strategy comes down to the action plans drawn up and how they are carried out. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to involve the whole staff in this process in order for internationalisation to really become an everyday part of each institution.

 A visual reminder of the simplified model of strategic planning as developed by the authors:

 

 

 Graph showing intersection of goals, vision and mission

The last part of this series gives some guiding questions for your Erasmus Plan.

Léargas would like to thank the Finnish National Agency for Education, for leading the development and co-ordination, and working alongside a team of representatives from the Danish, Dutch, Hungarian and German Erasmus+ National Agencies in VET in developing this comprehensive, practical and useful guide.