Arqus creates a pathfinder group on the future of mobility

Girl walking in the street with her lugagge

The new pathfinder group will explore how to maximize the benefits of mobility of students and staff in the changing context of the new decade. Thus, the experts will discuss issues such as sustainability, digitalization, inclusion and quality learning among many others.

The crisis caused by COVID-19 is testing many aspects of higher education systems. One of them is mobility, which is deeply debated and questioned at a time when it seems unlikely that we will be able to travel between countries freely and without concern.

Mobility is changing, and this time for good. It is becoming evident that mobility will not be business as usual anymore. After over 30 years of Erasmus, the creation of a new set of European University Alliances, the necessary sustainability considerations or the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are shaking the sector. Nevertheless, it is necessary to balance out those aspects with the benefits brought by mobility of both students and staff, including at individual, institutional or even system levels.

Being mobility at the core of Arqus and of the European University Alliances, a thorough analysis of its future is needed. The new targets of embedded mobility and of at least 50% of the students within the alliance benefiting from such mobility set an ambitious goal. Thus, the discussion needs to be broad and start with the definitions of the concepts that compose it and understanding how to implement it. For all these reasons, Arqus held last week the first of many discussions on mobility.

The objective of this meeting was to bring together mobility experts from all seven Arqus universities to exchange ideas and attempt to offer responses to questions regarding Arqus mobility targets and indicators, but also and more importantly regarding the kind of mobility the Alliance should promote and how it could ensure maximum impact. Some of the questions addressed at the meeting and that will be answered in future occasions are:

  • How should we define the different kinds of mobility promoted by Arqus?
  • How should we define “benefitting from mobility” in Arqus?
  • How will the pandemic affect mobility in the immediate and medium term?
  • How do we respond to the idea that physical mobility will always be elitist?
  • How do we ensure that those who do not participate in physical mobility benefit from it?
  • Are the traditional obstacles of language ability, funding and lack of recognition still an issue at our universities?

This meeting was the first of many fruitful and interesting discussions on issues surrounding mobility today and tomorrow.