Erasmus Charter and Erasmus Policy Statement
An important part of the strategy of the University of Bergen (UiB) is that internationalization shall be an integrated part of education and research and be an ingredient that contributes to the high academic standards of the institution. UiB considers the Erasmus+ programme to be an important tool when facing the diverse and serious problems in Europe related to the economic situation and the employability of the youth generation. Another important goal for the UiB is that our students and staff through research and expertise shall contribute actively towards meeting global challenges.
Internationalisation and mobility are crucial elements to ensure cultural learning and a building of a European identity and common values. We wish to use the possibilities in the Erasmus programme to enable our students and staff to experience and learn through individual and common mobility opportunities.
Participation in the Erasmus programme is an essential and integral part of the field of internationalisation at the University of Bergen (UiB). We have strong collaboration within the Nordic and European area, and our Action Plan for internationalisation states that we will commit ourselves to international cooperation and help resolve global challenges by means of targeted research, education, dissemination and innovation. Equally important, we intend to be a university characterised by openness and significant academic impact, aiming to attract students and researchers from all over the world. UiB is a comprehensive research university, with a focus on international partnerships based on academic cooperation to support mobility of students and staff.
In our Action Plan for internationalisation, UiB has set as a goal to increase participation in international research, education and innovation. One of the sub-goals is that at least 40% of the total number of students who graduate from UiB shall have been on exchange as an integral part of their degree within 2022. The Erasmus programme plays an important part in the work to successfully complete this goal. We intend to include more forms of mobility in the new Erasmus programme, in order to make mobility a possibility for everyone.
The University of Bergen (UiB) intends to participate in all parts the Erasmus programme. Erasmus mobility among students and staff is an important instrument in our work for internationalisation, recruitment and network building, research and teaching cooperation. Moreover, we intend to send and receive students and staff from programme countries and partner countries, as well as to work towards joint projects in various forms, with different regions.
We have experienced an increase in the numbers of Erasmus mobility’s within the last programme period, and we will continue working to promote exchange among our students and staff, as individuals or part of projects. By 2021, all study programmes at UiB will have a defined window for elective courses, such as mobility of at least three months’ duration, as part of our internationalisation strategy. To be able to increase our outgoing mobility to reach a level of 40%, we are dependent on European cooperation, specifically on the Erasmus programme. As the world’s biggest educational programme, it offers the possibility of mobility for everyone without tuition fees and with the Erasmus grant. Young researchers and newly educated students may also take advantage of the Erasmus programme, such as staff mobility or traineeships for recent graduates, possibilities they might not find elsewhere. Professors will go abroad to teach at universities where subject fields are relevant and complementary to ours, and thereby strengthen cooperation and in many cases pave the way for further cooperation and student mobility. International Credit Mobility (ICM) has given UiB an opportunity to introduce the Erasmus programme to our partners outside of Europe, and strengthen cooperation with partner countries through sending and receiving students and staff.
An important goal for UiB in the pending Erasmus programme period is to submit more applications for all parts of Key Action 2. We would like to promote the possibilities in Key Action 2 to a greater extent at UiB, and to make sure that these opportunities are well known to our academic staff. We are part of many ongoing projects, mainly strategic partnerships, but we aim to increase our activities in decentralized partnerships, as well as more active participation in centralized actions in the new programme. We have received funding for one Jean Monnet Module. Being a member of a European University Alliance, we will work towards synergies with the Key Action 2 of the Erasmus programme and Horizon 2020 particularly in the field of digitalisation and modernisation of our universities. As a strong research institution, we also wish to explore potential contribution to policy development in the field of education through Key action 3.
The growth of Erasmus agreements at UiB shows that international cooperation and collaboration among our teaching staff, administrative staff and students is important, and this indicates a high international activity. The participation in International Credit Mobility is high, and UiB is the leading institution of this field in Norway. UiB has an active and broad participation in all parts of the Erasmus programme, including all levels of our organization, and we intend to continue this strategy to reach our ambitious goals.
An important part of the strategy of UiB is that internationalization shall be an integrated part of education and research and should be a factor that contributes to the high academic standards of the institution.
The ambitious goals that UiB has set for internationalisation can only be reached through the continued participation in the Erasmus programme, and we will have a strong focus on individual mobility of students and staff, both incoming and outgoing, and the participation in projects. The participation in a European University Alliance, will result in a wide range of possibilities at our university, and we will use this network to strengthen both individual mobility and project cooperation.
We are currently launching pilots of mandatory mobility in study programmes, automatic recognition with some Erasmus partners (no application process). We will continue piloting to find new ways to increase mobility as well as to ensure mobility and internationalisation for all, specifically focusing on blended and virtual mobility. The value of face-to-face meetings is still to be ensured, but shorter mobility periods and internationalisation at home, with the benefits from our incoming students, will also be considered a priority for UiB. Not everyone will go on a physical exchange, but will be offered international study subjects in their programme of study at UiB.
UiB will work towards a higher involvement in Erasmus projects and in particular projects with focus on innovative practices. We are also seeking synergies between funding instruments, and we have already seen spin-offs.
High quality of internationalisation is equally important, and international cooperation should as far as it is possible, be based on research cooperation and academic collaboration. This ensures high quality in our international partnerships as well as internationalisation in our teaching and research. This benefits our students as well, as we will encourage them to participate in research activities whenever possible.
As a modern university, we are proud to state that we provide updated information (course catalogue), transparent processes for application and selection, support for incoming and outgoing students through the International Centre, and that we are inclusive and flexible with both incoming and outgoing students regarding their selection of courses and recognition process.
In 2016, UiB received an award for Excellent International Student Satisfaction, based on average satisfaction ratings of 9/10 in 16 000 reviews evaluating international student experiences at UiB.
Implementation of the fundamental principles
UiB is an inclusive university, which welcomes students and staff with all kind of backgrounds and needs. We believe that it is a strength to have a diverse and varied population of students and staff, and our admission procedures are open and transparent.
Inclusion and transparency
As a public university, UiB wish for our workforce to reflect the diversity of the population as far as possible. Persons with migration backgrounds and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply for positions at UiB.
We are working to improve our services for students with special needs. We have special arrangements for examinations for students with disabilities, and we have special focus on exchange students with special needs and provide special support services (teaching adjustment, examination arrangements etc.). The faculties and departments each have a coordinator for students with special needs, and they have the responsibility of organizing and giving information. Additionally, we provide information about special needs on the general Erasmus website. Currently, we have a project, which aims to obtain a gold standard for support for students with special needs.
All Norwegian students have access to Norwegian State Educational Loan funding (Lånekassen), and we are in the position to have enough Erasmus grants for all students and staff who wish to go on Erasmus mobility. Therefore, disadvantaged economic background is not a focus area. However, we use OS money to top up grants for students who are in need of extra funding (for example for visa for non-Norwegian citizens and non-Norwegian students without State Educational Loan funding).
Digitalisation of the Erasmus programme
UiB welcomes all initiatives for digitalisation of student administration, and in particular in connection with the Erasmus programme.
We have already digitalized much of the process for exchange and internationalization (online application system, nomination web, database for agreements), because we would like to improve services for students and we believe digitalization is an integral part of this. We are currently implementing a secure web-based application process for various student services, which increases the level of self-service and at the same time ensuring sufficient data protection and secure handling of documentation.
Exchange of results via EMREX has already been implemented in national administrative services and has been used at UiB for several years. Admission, approval and the National Diploma Portal are included in these services.
We gradually introduced the Online Learning Agreement from the academic year 2016/2017, and today all our students use Online Learning Agreements. We are partners in the Strategic partnership OLA 3.0, and were in OLA+. As the first university in Norway to use OLA, UiB has hosted several workshops for our staff as well as our Norwegian and international colleagues. We have presented the OLA tool at national and international seminars, and have worked closely with the Norwegian NA and Unit (IT provider). Moreover, we have provided support for outgoing and incoming students, as well as our colleagues at our partner universities.
We have tested the Inter-Institutional Agreement Manager, and will use the Erasmus Dashboard to renew all Erasmus agreements for the new Erasmus programme, unless UNIT ensures connection between our Student Information System (SIS) and the Erasmus Dashboard through EWP. The developers of the Inter-institutional Agreement Manager (IIA manager) are working on connecting to the EWP network. They are also looking at functionality to download data from the IIA manager to the home institution via EWP.
Transcripts of records are fully digitalized, and students may download their transcript of records electronically at any time, connected via National Diploma registry.
We promote the Erasmus App for students at our Erasmus webpage and in all information meetings for outgoing students.
Contribution to a green university and society is very important for UiB, and we aspire to be climate neutral by 2030. We work towards an annual reduction by 10% in our climate accounts to reach that goal. UiB considers it as a duty to take account of environmental considerations and social responsibility in all our activities, and is actively engaged in science diplomacy towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We need a systematic commitment to everyday environmental measures, including for students and staff on mobility. We have several pilots with virtual mobility and interdisciplinary teams cooperating across several countries.
Taking advantage of the incoming students and staff as well as the diverse student population at UiB is important when it comes to secure international experiences for all students, including the ones that stay on campus. Creating an international environment at UiB is a step towards internationalisation at home, something everyone can benefit from.
In accordance with its institutional policy, UiB includes travels from student exchange in its climate accounts and therefore it is important to inspire students to travel climate friendly, for instance by giving grants to students who travel by land. UiB will explore the potential to promote teaching and learning linked to sustainability through different Erasmus actions.
Mobility of students and teachers is one possible and important way to ensure exposure and critical thinking about the quality and relevance of education. This concerns every aspect of higher education, as the content of study programmes, learning outcomes, teaching methods, language of teaching, examination methods and so forth. By comparing experiences from abroad with the situation at the home institution, both students and teachers will become more aware of the strong sides and areas of improvements at home.
UiB considers the Erasmus programme to be an important tool when facing the diverse and serious problems in Europe related to the economic situation and the employability of the youth generation.
An important goal for UiB is that our students and staff shall contribute actively towards meeting global challenges through research and expertise.
Full recognition of credits from a mobility period is implemented at UiB. As part of a project, initially called “Opt-out” we are taking steps towards exchange as the new normal (students apply to not going on exchange instead of the opposite) and all our study programmes have made room for a mobility window. Automatic recognition is part of this project, and students will (in some study programmes) get the semester automatically recognized without any application, but only by presenting their transcript of record from the host university by the end of their mobility. This is because all partner universities of these study programmes have been pre-recognized and students may choose courses freely (with certain restrictions). They do need an Online Learning Agreement as all Erasmus students of course.
However, the normal situation is still that students apply for pre-recognition before they leave, and keep their study programme informed of changes during mobility. If so, all credits are recognized as part of their study programme and degree. This will also apply for blended mobility.
Generally, we do accept digital transcripts, and we have used the automatic transfer of student data through EMREX for students with exchange semesters in Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Erasmus staff mobility is an excellent opportunity for our staff to get to know their European partners. This may be especially important for young researchers and teachers who wish to extend their international network but it is also very relevant for administrative staff who advise students in their study programmes. It is also an excellent opportunity to improve language skills and to engage in academic educational cooperation and common teaching. Our students may also benefit from new relations and cooperation made by our academic and administrative staff.
We are in the fortunate situation that we are usually able to support everyone who applies for Erasmus staff mobility (teaching and training) and we have seen a steadily increasing number in staff mobility over the last Erasmus programme period.
We promote Erasmus staff mobility in many forums, like departmental meetings or any meeting with international profile. We have webpages with detailed information.
UiB is a decentralised organisation and it is up to each unit to recognize staff mobility in formal manners. However, we encourage all units to recognize extra-curricular efforts done by staff in the international area as well as other areas.