Uppsala University named Erasmus+ Actor of the Year 2019

5 November 2019

Head of division Erika Dabhilkar (right) and project manager Sara Laginder receive the diploma from Karin Röding, Director-General of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (left)

Uppsala University has been named Erasmus+ Actor of the Year for its systematic and successful efforts to promote student mobility through Erasmus+. The award was presented by the Swedish Council for Higher Education at a ceremony in Gothenburg today.

“This is recognition for Uppsala University and everyone who puts so much hard work into the Erasmus Programme throughout the University. One of several successful projects is the scholarship scheme that enables students to take climate-friendly transport to their study destinations. This has been noticed around Europe and more universities are now following our example,” says Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson.

Uppsala University has worked strategically to increase the number of outgoing students under the Erasmus Programme. One approach has been to conduct a survey of programme coordinators to identify the most suitable time for students taking different degree programmes to travel abroad. Information about opportunities for study abroad needs to reach students in good time. Several degree programmes have reviewed their curricula and created ‘mobility windows’.

“The Teacher Education Programme, for example, has scheduled its placement periods at the end of the semester, which has made it possible for students of education to do their teaching placement under the Erasmus placement scheme,” says Sara Laginder, project manager.

Uppsala University has also used ‘study abroad ambassadors’: students who have personally done in an exchange, done a placement or collected data for their degree project abroad have participated in various information actions and campaigns. The University has also worked actively to encourage academic staff and administrative and technical staff to obtain international experience.

In a move to market Europe as a study destination and to reduce the climate impact, Uppsala University was the first higher education institution in Sweden and Europe to establish a scholarship to encourage outgoing students to take the train to their study destination instead of flying. This initiative has been appreciated by outgoing students and has attracted considerable attention both in Sweden and more widely in Europe.

The combined efforts have yielded tangible results: the number of students travelling to an Erasmus placement has doubled over the past couple of academic years, from around 70 in the 2017/18 academic year to 140 in the 2018/19 academic year. The number of students travelling to study has not increased at the same rate, but the University is working to reach underrepresented groups. For example, there are extra scholarships in Erasmus+ for students with children and students with disabilities. There has also been a campaign targeting doctoral students.

The citation for the award reads: “The University has been exemplary in engaging students as ambassadors for Erasmus+ and highlighting placement opportunities. Special attention has been given to programmes where few students have traditionally participated in exchanges. The University’s management has taken vital decisions to signal the importance of mobility. This has enabled a large number of students at Uppsala University to spend part of their time as a student in another country.”