#ErasmusUpgrade, Erasmus Student Network’s main event in the field of education, took place between the 9th and the 11th of October. The event had its first edition in 2017, and this year it was hosted online for the first time, gathering 60 student representatives from 42 countries, 7 expert speakers, multiple discussions on the future of the Erasmus+ programme, integrating also various strategic topics and a number of capacity building sessions.
The main aim of the event is to involve the leaders of ESN’s National Associations and engage them in discussions about their vision on shaping the future of student mobilities, offering them the opportunity to share expectations and thoughts on how these could be improved, not only among themselves but also with the external stakeholders in the frontline of policymaking.
The event was opened by Ms. Themis Christophidou, the Director-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, with an inspiring speech on the vision for the future of Erasmus+ programme regarding topics such as the accessibility, inclusion, gender equality, digitalisation and the Green Deal.
“We know how much this programme means to people. For those with disadvantaged backgrounds, with disabilities - we are not only adapting the current system but introducing new opportunities. We want to make Erasmus accessible to smaller grassroots associations.” - Themis Christophidou
The first day of the event was dedicated to external stakeholders and discussions with decision-makers. German Bernal-Rios from the Department of Education and Culture, International Cooperation Unit (C3) of the European Commission stated the importance of the South Mediterranean region for the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility. Marcello Scalisi, Director of the Union of Mediterranean Universities (UNIMED), shared the student mobility status quo and the challenges and opportunities in the Mediterranean region.
Hrvoje Grganovic from the Department of Employment, Skills and Qualifications Unit of the European Commission presented the new Europass and how it can benefit international students. Harpa Sif. Arnarsdottir from the Department of Education and Culture, Higher Education Unit (B3) of the European Commission shared the new types of mobilities in the next Erasmus+ programme.
“ESN plays a crucial role, not only to develop initiatives but also to promote the Erasmus+ programme and engage with stakeholders on the ground." - Harpa Sif Arnarsdottir
Dominique Montagnese and Valerie Van Hees from the Center for Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO) presented the results of the research report that ESN conducted together with the Flemish Ministry of Education and SIHO, and also the InclusiveMobility.eu platform. Last but not least, Céline Meyer, Responsible Party Project Manager at Pernod Ricard, facilitated a discussion and a brainstorming session on the topic of stigmatisation during COVID-19, and how international students can continue to have fun without breaking the distancing rules.
The second and third day of the #ErasmusUpgrade covered more internal discussions and topics with multiple tracks and workshops. The participants had the opportunity to engage in sessions on education, advocacy and strategic planning. Equipped with skills and knowledge, they are now able to better design their own sustainable strategies and advocate wider for the rights of international students and the future of the Erasmus+ programme.