Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Sustainability
Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Sustainability
Clustering Masters Courses and Attractiveness Projects: Lot 2 – Thematic Cluster on Employability
This document introduces Practical Guidelines on approaches taken to sustainability. It presents three perspectives: (1) direct evidence of how sustainability has ‘happened’; (2) considerations regarding what is happening in an ‘intermediate’ phase of activity; and (3) a presentation of actual sustainability plans. The three sets of materials are then brought together into a set of overall recommendations for all Erasmus Mundus joint programmes to consider when they are looking to the period beyond European funding.
Author: European Commission.
European Commission. (2012) Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Sustainability, Clustering Masters Courses and Attractiveness Projects: Lot 2 – Thematic Cluster on Employability, MKW Wirtschaftsforschungs GmbH. Download
The purpose of the practical guidelines is to raise awareness about sustainability within Erasmus Mundus and to be useful as a tool to implement elements from existing achievements.
The survey and the workshop revealed that there are diverse pathways to sustainability for joint programmes. In order to achieve financial sustainability, continue as a world-class programme and involve all stakeholders, 11 recommendations can be made.
Achieving sustainability through alternative financing
1. Develop a robust sustainability strategy
From the start of planning to run an EMJP, focus on not becoming over-dependent on Commission funding, regarding it instead as a ‘launch-pad’ on which to build future success;
2. Consortium sustainability through institutional embedding
Work with your partner institutions in the consortium to secure commitment for ‘in kind’ resources that underpin the consortium beyond core funding and which enable it to continue developing a international network;
3. Build funding capacity through a ‘portfolio’ approach to sources of finance
Actively research all potential funding opportunities that can replace (totally or partially) the student scholarships that come with a funded EMJP and make it as easy as possible for potential students to apply for funding;
4. Convince excellent students that your programme is worth paying fees or seeking finance
To encourage students to fully or partially self-fund, make it clear to them what the benefits of participating in the programme are. Convince them that you will support them in minimising the associated costs and overheads incurred through visas and mobility.
Achieving sustainability as world-class programmes through targeted dissemination
5. Maintain focus on core/niche markets through innovative pedagogical content.
Constantly review the programme and adapt it to the needs of the market.
6. Maximise the involvement of end-users
Research employability needs and ensure that students will be provided with relevant soft skills to enhance their employability.
7. Develop strategic alliances
Include employers but also other stakeholders such as public institutions and students/alumni to improve employability; provide platforms to explore stakeholder and employer needs and feed them back into curriculum innovation.
8. Market your programme strategically
Communicate why it is ‘world class’ and identify the main beneficiaries (students) and end-users (employers); develop convincing messages for all of them;
- Develop an integrated communication strategy tailored to the different audiences of the programme.
- Involve networks to publicise the programme to different target groups and use marketing agents, EU Delegations and alumni where possible.
- Produce world-class publicity material that is clearly designed with the ‘market’ in mind. Ensure that programme websites are designed with the end-user in mind, not the administrators. Ensure that your alumni are promoting and praising your programme.
- Carry out ‘mystery shopping’ activities – use external agents to ‘test’ what a potential student or employer would experience when searching for your programme.
Achieving sustainability through strong relationships with all Erasmus Mundus Stakeholders
9. Continue building the global reputation of Erasmus Mundus
Work with the Commission, for example through EM-A, coordinated action by programmes, and the common activities with Action 2 and 3 projects.
10. Build sustainable institutional cooperation and academic networks
Develop Action 2 opportunities through mobility exchanges, thus putting in place a robust consortium for joint programme development.
11. Ensure that your programme is strategically positioned in the global HE marketplace
Develop or engage with Action 3 projects to work together with the wider community of actors in areas such as recognition, global and regional HEI innovation and reform
The study undertook numerical analysis of the quantitative data, looking for key trends and differences between the target groups, and geographical patterns and possible variations across disciplines. It then analysed the information provided in the open text boxes by tabulating the comments, categorising them into themes and sub-themes, sorting and reviewing the material, reviewing the themes and sub-themes, and using the structured responses to identify trends, good practice examples and key challenges.
The online survey consisted of open and closed questions and was accompanied by follow-up qualitative interviews which aimed to cover detailed information about challenges that could not be covered by the quantitative interviews.
The main conclusions highlighted by the survey were:
- In terms of achieving financial sustainability of Erasmus Mundus Joint Programmes, the survey results show that a central challenge for financial sustainability is to ascertain whether there are sufficient other coherent financial sources that can realistically sustain all, or the majority, of EMJPs. Financial sustainability in many cases necessitates a focus on direct charges such as student fees (but that is not possible in all EU Member States), exploration of sponsorship (but that may threaten to dilute the key characteristics of EM such as third-country involvement and student mobility), but it may also encourage innovation beyond Erasmus Mundus such as the development of targeted short-courses that run at a profit and cross-subsidise. However, these are options that are mostly partial substitution activities, and not full replacements for Commission funding.
- With respect to a strategic reform and simplification of the European higher education area, the survey revealed that the discussions on the recognition of degrees is an institutional imperative to adopt a student-led focus on all of the Erasmus Mundus challenges, and it is not acceptable that the process moves at the speed of the slowest institution.
- In order to develop integrated and coherent sustainability strategies, the coordinators and partners were asked to examine the possible sources for future sustainability. The overall message from the respondents was that the programmes in general must focus on excellence, internationalization, and Europe’s competitive position globally.
- European Commission. (2012) Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Sustainability, Clustering Masters Courses and Attractiveness Projects: Lot 2 – Thematic Cluster on Employability, MKW Wirtschaftsforschungs GmbH.