The 29th Annual EAIE Conference and Exhibition took place from 12–15 September 2017 in Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre. Among 6000 participants from 95 countries who attended the conference were 4 representatives of the Erasmus Student Network: João Pinto (President), Tijana Stojanović (Vice-President), Kacper Olczyk (Communication Manager) and Jérémy Apert (HousErasmus+ Project Coordinator).
The conference gathered university staff focused on internationalisation of higher education, from National Agencies staff to exchange coordinators and international relations officers as well as companies active in the fields and representatives of European Commission. ESN had the privilege of being one of the few student organisations present during the event. This year's conference theme was 'A mosaic of cultures'. The beautiful city of Seville made for a fitting metaphor of the work done by international educators. As a field, international higher education is the craft of bringing different perspectives together. During 4 days, the participants had the chance to participate in discussions, debates, keynotes, poster sessions and workshops on a variety of topics.
ESN’s contribution focused on the future of Erasmus+, making the exchange programmes easier, more inclusive and accessible through digitalisation and better information provision. Together with Stefan Jahnke from European University Foundation and Valére Meus from Ghent University, Kacper Olczyk facilitated the Erasmus 2.0: Let’s get rid of the paperwork! session. A fully-functional beta version of the Online Learning Agreement system has been demonstrated with the involvement of the participants. You can watch the recording of the session below:
In another session, Moving towards inclusive mobility for students with disabilities, João Pinto presented outcomes of ESN’s European-wide survey outlining the obstacles to inclusive mobility from the perspectives of students and universities and some solutions. It has immediately been followed by a mapping activity where together with participants the MappED! App has been used to input information about the accessibility of the venue where the event was taking place.
MappED! has also been presented during the poster sessions, along with the HousErasmus+ project and the European Mobility Portal. The former presents the outcome of the biggest research on international student accommodation, which has been conducted by the Erasmus Student Network together with partners over the past 2 years. It presents the major problems when it comes to student housing and offers recommendations for different stakeholders. The latter explores an innovative idea of a centralised database of mobility opportunities which would radically simplify the information provision for anyone looking for international experience, be it through studying, working or volunteering.
Apart from informative sessions and best practice sharing, during EAIE 2017 in Seville individuals and institutions with a remarkable contribution to improving international education have been recognised. ESN is happy to see Hywel Ceri Jones and Alan Smith receive the Constance Meldrum Award for Vision and Leadership for the development of the Erasmus Programme in its early stages. We are also very proud of Adriana Perez, an ESN Spain Alumni who has been honoured with the Rising Star Award.
What’s more, during the conference we had the pleasure of hearing inspiring keynote speeches from Alexander Betts, motivational academic and humanitarian and Taiye Selasi, impassioned writer and photographer.
EAIE Seville 2017 proved to be very impressive and inspiring experience which confirmed valuable place of the Erasmus Student Network in the landscape of higher education.