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The value of teachers mobility

through the European Programs
to their personal
professional development.
Education in the Lisbon Strategy: assessment and prospects

Since its formal inception in 1976, EU cooperation in the field of
education has known a number of major landmarks: the launch of the
Erasmus programme in 1987, the inclusion of education for the first
time in the Treaty (Maastricht, 1992) and, last but not least, the role
given to education and training in the new EU 10-year economic and
social strategy launched in Lisbon in 2000.

The inclusion of education in the Lisbon strategy was a major step
forward . 10 years later, and in an historical perspective, is possible an
assessment,although globally positive, underlining not only the role
played by the Lisbon strategy in relaunching and consolidating EU
education cooperation, but also the weak implementation and
ownership at national level that hindered its success. At the dawn of
the recently launched new strategy for the next 10 years (EU 2020),
many are the challenges to be met to close the gap between policy
ambitions and implementation.
Eurydice Overview - Staff Mobility in Higher Education National Policies and Programmes


By mobility we mean individuals (children, adolescents or adults)
moving from one environment to another for short or long periods of
time. Mobility in language education is important as it provides
students and teachers with opportunities to spend time studying,
training or working in another country and to improve their language
skills and develop their intercultural competences.

Mobility programmes ( such as Erasmus+ ) give students and teachers
opportunities for travel and professional development and this
enhances their employability. Mobility can be either physical or virtual.
Both of these types of mobility help individuals to acquire new skills
and to develop existing competences, through face to face interaction
or Internet.
Questions relating to Mobility and Intercultural Learning

Intercultural learning involves individuals becoming aware of the
similarities and differences between cultures and learning to embrace
them, to reflect on and evaluate their own thoughts, feelings and
behaviour in order to enhance their self-awareness, acting as cultural
mediators to interpret and explain different points of view to
individuals from different cultural backgrounds

Why are mobility and intercultural learning so important?

Competences developed and enhanced through mobility increase the
individual’s self - awareness and awareness of others. Each of these
competences is particularly important for the individuals’ future
personal, academic and professional development.

The simple experience of leaving your own environment is an
educational experience; this is reinforced when it means using another
language and encountering new rhythms of daily life and new
approaches to learning.

However, the learning experience can be enhanced by a structured
approach. The use of research tasks and learning scenarios can enrich
the contact with hosts and develop intercultural skills with more focus
and more questioning.

There have been experiments where ethnological research case studies
have been included as part of Erasmus years abroad (Celia Roberts,
Language and Cultural Issues in Innovation, Addison Wesley Longman,

Promoting staff mobility has become an issue of increasing importance
in European higher education policy.

Mobility and internationalisation are key aspects of the Bologna
process, and staff mobility is integral to the overall objectives.
This is exemplified most recently in the 'Mobility Strategy 2020 for the
European Higher Education Area' adopted by the Ministers of the
European Higher Education Area countries.

Yet despite the political attention to the topic, surprisingly little
information about staff mobility is available at European level. Part of
the reason for the lack of information is conceptual.
Mobility and culture

Mobility is by no means a new feature of human behaviour. On the
contrary, it has given birth and shape to civilisations throughout the

However, nowadays we feel the need, probably more pressing than
ever, to equip citizens with a set of competencies, at both a personal
and a professional level, enabling them to fully explore the
opportunities of a world that seems to, all of a sudden, have become
wide open to them.

Why do we bother? Do we not become naturally intercultural by being
physically mobile? Why do we dare? Can we be interculturally mobile
without being physically mobile?
Mobility has lately been a keyword in transnational programmes both
in Europe and beyond.

While 2006 was designated by the European Commission as the
“European Year of Workers’ Mobility”, the United Nations Secretary
General’s Special Representative on International Migration and
Development, Peter Sutherland, stated in his speech at the 7th meeting
of the Commission on Population and Development that “The world
was moving from an era of migration to one of mobility” since
“countries were no longer divided strictly into sending and receiving
countries, but were increasingly sending, receiving and even transit
countries” (Sutherland, 2006).

The difference in terminology – migration and mobility – does not
simply address the apparent difference between groups of people
moving only one or both ways.
The positive connotations of terms such as “expatriates” (or “foreigners”
in some languages) and negative connotations of the term “migrants”
depends on the attribution of the term “immigrant” to a particular
group is influenced not only by the host country’s perceptions of the
immigrant’s country of origin, but also by his/her socioeconomic status.

The common feature of both migrants and expatriates, that is, of all
mobile people, is that they are both carriers and producers of culture.
They carry their cultural baggage(s), and they adapt, accommodate,
resist and create culture, although not in a linear manner.

Communicating across cultures or intercultural communication is
“communication on the basis of respect for individuals and equality of
human rights as the democratic basis for social interaction” (Byram et
al., 2002)
Drawing a parallel between “intercultural communication” and “effective
interaction”, Guilherme (2000: 297-300) defines success in intercultural
communication as “accomplishing a negotiation between people based on
both culture-specific and culture-general features, that is on the whole
respectful of and favourable to each”. For Cohen (2004), “negotiation is an
exercise in language and words and concepts are equally understood by all

Three main sub-components have been identified as being an integral part
of the competences that allow communicating across cultures: non-verbal
communication, verbal communication and language awareness. Non-
verbal communication occupies a relevant position in this paradigm.

Communication does not exclusively depend on language; as Revell and
Norman (1999: 91) indicate “communication is more nonverbal than verbal”
Non-verbal aspects may reinforce the message expressed verbally or,
interestingly, they may contradict it. Even though most of them are not
explicitly contemplated in the foreign language curriculum or syllabus,
non-verbal aspects such as body language, eye contact, gestures,
proxemics (interpersonal space), appearance, dressing style or haptics
(bodily touching) seem to be highly significant in cross-cultural
Verbal communication has no doubt been the central element of most foreign
language programmes, with the first one out of the four main competences
identified by Canale and Swain (1980 ) extensively studied and practised:

1 grammatical competence (the “knowledge of lexical terms and rules of
morphology, syntax, sentence-grammar, semantics, and phonology”);
2 sociolinguistic competence (“made up of two sets of rules: sociocultural rules of
use and rules of discourse”);
3 discourse competence (how to combine grammatical forms and meanings to
achieve a unified spoken or written text in different genres);
4 strategic competence (verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may
be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to
performance variables or to insufficient competence).

Furthermore, paralinguistic features such as stress, rhythm and intonation play a
fundamental role in verbal communication (for example, the tone used in a
particular community such as the Spanish of Spain may seem aggressive in
another Spanishspeaking community and may cause misunderstanding even
though the linguistic code is shared).

When negotiation takes place across different languages and cultures, the
scope for misunderstanding increases. . Accordingly, communication across
cultures presents the problem that the selection of a lingua franca does not
ensure an efficient under standing.

Intercultural mobility is viewed here as a “horizon”, which may be
described not only as a goal at which we always aim yet never fully
reach but also a recurrent starting point. Intercultural mobility entails,
therefore, an ontological and epistemological turn where we also look
for the other in ourselves. However, the term mobility here, especially if
applied to professional settings, can be misleading if understood as to
be applied mostly to short-lived and superficial intercultural

On the contrary, following Byram’s line of thought, such encounters,
even if brief, are valuable to our study if they aim “to establish and
maintain relationships” which, in this project, are not necessarily
personal but cannot help being social and professional, rather than
aiming at the mere communication of messages and exchange of
information or simply direct, detached interaction (Byram, 1997).
Although Byram conceptualises the five savoirs for the purpose of
formal schooling, we believe that they can also be applicable to the
development of intercultural competence for professional mobility.

Intercultural mobility may also be perceived as a frame of mind which
allows a crosscultural encounter to turn into an intercultural one in that
it “transforms both parties and which enables both, through
languaging, to embark upon new journeys of self and social discovery.

It is a journey into intercultural being” (Phipps and Gonzalez, 2004 )

Intercultural mobility happens across various levels: (a) global, (b)
national, (c) local and generates intercultural dialogue between
different systems of beliefs, values and attitudes. Any individual can, in
principle, ‘travel’ through these levels, unintentionally, inadvertently
and unchanging, yet aware of the differences.

That is, this individual can be mobile, have multicultural experiences,
perhaps have a pluralistic political position by accepting and enjoying
difference, yet never quite reach an intercultural stage as defined
It is possible for an individual to accept, enjoy, and live diversity, to
adapt and be personally and professionally successful in a multicultural

This individual can even live through ontological and epistemological
change and, surprisingly, the “engaging” and “languaging” stages. Such
an achievement would require her/him to go through “a critical cycle”,
that is, “a reflective, exploratory, dialogical and active stance towards
cultural knowledge and life that allows for dissonance, contradiction,
and conflict as well as for consensus, concurrence, and transformation”
(Guilherme, 2002: 219).

In addition, this process would entail the experiencing of a series of
operations “gathered in three main moments: (a) when one approaches
and responds to culture(s) – experiencing, exploring, wondering, and
speculating; (b) when one engages with and embarks on (inter)cultural
observation, research and interpretation – appreciating, commenting,
comparing, reflecting, analysing, and questioning; and (c) when one
performs (inter)cultural acts and transforms cultural life –
hypothesising, evaluating, negotiating, deciding, différant, and acting”
(Guilherme, 2002: 221).
Such operations should nevertheless require “a cognitive and
emotional endeavour that aim[ed] at individual and collective
emancipation, social justice and political commitment” (Guilherme,
2002: 219).

Intercultural mobility in the workplace, as we define it and if we are to
consider its ontological, epistemological, methodological and civic
dimensions, certainly depends on individual vision and commitment,
on work group dynamics as well as on organisational structure and

However, it is also shaped by a national legal and political framework
that is multicultural and stimulates the individual to act as an
intercultural citizen (Kymlicka, 2003) In sum, intercultural mobility
demands and stimulates an intercultural ethos at all levels.

Overview of national policies and measures concerning staff mobility in
higher education
Staff mobility tends to be seen as an element of human resources
development and as a way to improve the quality of higher education
and research at national higher education institutions.

National policies therefore are designed to encourage staff of national
higher education institutions to spend some time abroad (and to return
to the home country afterwards) and/or to facilitate the recruitment of
highly qualified foreign lecturers and researchers

Language competence is an effect but simultaneously a prerequisite for
mobility, and this implies that mobility needs to be a part of the
learning process. Mobility and exchange programmes are crucial ways
for language learners and teachers to improve their language skills and
develop their intercultural competences.

The ECML (European Centre for Modern Languages) provides
resources to help learners and teachers make the most of mobility and
ensure such programmes are truly meaningful.
The Bologna Process developed a series of ministerial meetings and
agreements between European countries designed to ensure
comparability in the standards and quality of higher education
qualifications. Through the Bologna Accords, the process has created
the European Higher Education Area, in particular under the Lisbon
Recognition Convention. It is named after the place it was proposed,
the University of Bologna, with the signing of the Bologna declaration
by Education Ministers from 29 European countries in 1999, forming a
part of European integration

The Bologna Process, now collecting 50 participating countries, really
is a collective effort of public authorities, universities, teachers, and
students, together with stakeholder associations, employers, quality
assurance agencies, international organisations, and institutions,
including the European Commission..
It constitutes an intergovernmental agreement between both EU and non-
EU countries, therefore does not have the status of EU legislation. As the
Bologna Declaration is not a treaty or convention, there are no legal
obligations for the signatory states. Participation and cooperation is

The Bologna Process also supports the modernisation of education and
training systems to make sure these meet the needs of a changing labour
market. This is important as the proportion of jobs requiring high skills
grows, and the demand for innovation and entrepreneurship increases.

Prior to the signing of the Bologna declaration, the Magna Charta
Universitatum had been issued at a meeting of university rectors
celebrating the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna – and thus
of European universities – in 1988. One year before the Bologna
declaration, education ministers Claude Allegre (France), Jürgen Rüttgers
(Germany), Luigi Berlinguer (Italy) and Baroness Blackstone (UK) signed the
Sorbonne declaration[2] in Paris 1998, committing themselves to
"harmonising the architecture of the European Higher Education system".

EU actions favoring mobility
(ECTS) is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of
students of higher education across the European Union and other
collaborating European countries. For successfully completed studies, ECTS
credits are awarded. One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS credits that are
normally equivalent to 1500–1800 hours of total workload, irrespective of
standard or qualification type. ECTS credits are used to facilitate transfer and
progression throughout the Union. ECTS also includes a standard grading scale,
intended to be shown in addition to local (i.e. national) standard grades.

Erasmus mundus (2007 – 2013)

The Erasmus Mundus programme aims to enhance the quality of higher
education and promote dialogue and understanding between people and
cultures through mobility and academic cooperation

Erasmus Mundus is a cooperation and mobility programme in the field of
higher education that aims to enhance the quality of European higher
education and to promote dialogue and understanding between people and
cultures through cooperation with Third-Countries. In addition, it contributes to
the development of human resources and the international cooperation
capacity of Higher education institutions in Third Countries by increasing
mobility between the European Union and these countries.
TEMPUS PROGRAMME (2007 – 2013)
Tempus is the European Union’s programme which supports the modernisation
of higher education in the Partner Countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the
Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region, mainly through university
cooperation projects. Promotes institutional cooperation that involves the
European Union and Partner Countries and focuses on the reform and
modernisation of higher education systems in the Partner Countries of Eastern
Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region. It also
aims to promote voluntary convergence of the higher education systems in the
Partner Countries with EU developments in the field of higher education. With
regards to the Western Balkans, Tempus contributes to preparing the candidate
and potential candidate countries for a participation in the integrated Life Long
Learning Programme.

In addition to promoting cooperation between institutions, Tempus also
promotes a people-to-people approach. Tempus provides support to consortia
of institutions composed mainly of universities or university associations. Non-
academic partners can also be part of a consortium.
The Tempus programme is implemented in close coordination with the Erasmus
Mundus programme which provides scholarships to third country students
allowing them to participate in top-level Master courses and Doctorate
programmes outside the EU.
The Copenhagen Process has strived to modernise vocational
education and training, make it more attractive and develop Europe-
wide approaches such as increased transnational mobility, better
transparency and recognition of qualifications and general
internationalisation in the sector, thus contributing to the creation of a
genuine European labour market.

The Copenhagen process: enhanced European cooperation in
vocational education and training Launched in 2002, the Copenhagen
process aims to improve the performance, quality and attractiveness of
vocational education and training (VET) through enhanced cooperation
at European level. The process is based on mutually agreed priorities
that are reviewed periodically.

The Work Programme for Erasmus+ for 2017 C(2016) 5571as adopted
by the Commission foresees a "VET Mobility Charter" for the
accreditation of bodies with a strong record of successfully organising
high-quality mobility for VET learners and staff.
The Copenhagen process forms an integral part of the “Education and
Training 2020” (ET2020) strategic framework and will contribute to
achieving the education-related targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.
With these in mind, the global vision for VET calls for European VET
systems that are more attractive, inclusive, relevant, accessible, career-
oriented, flexible and innovative by 2020.
Based on this vision, the 11 long-term strategic objectives for European
cooperation in VET for the period 2011-20, together with the 22 short-
term deliverables for the period 2011-14 that provide concrete actions
at national level for achieving the strategic objectives, call in particular

• the strengthening of the quality and efficiency as well as the
attractiveness and relevance of VET;

• the realisation of LLL and mobility;

• the development of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship;

• the promotion of equity, social cohesion and active citizenship.
The Lisbon European Council of March 2000 recognised the
importance of developing high quality VET to promote social inclusion,
cohesion, mobility, employability and competitiveness

The “Education and Training 2020” work programme (ET2020) was
adopted in May 2009. In line with the Europe 2020 growth strategy and
building on the previous work programme ET2010, ET2020 defines the
long-term strategic objectives of EU education and training policies:

1 making lifelong learning and mobility a reality;

2 improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;

3 promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship;

4 enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all
levels of education and training.