Erasmus+: a time for reflection

Erasmus+: a time for reflection

Whether your institution has been providing comprehensive mobility opportunities for students/staff for many years, is an active player in collaboration projects with other institutions/businesses, or is just starting out on the ‘internationalisation path’, the emergence of a new EU programme such as Erasmus+ calls for a period of reflection. Are you truly getting the most out of the opportunities provided by the EU?


For more than 25 years, KU Leuven, as a research-intensive, continental European university in Flanders (Belgium), has been an active player in nearly all national and international programmes that incentivise intra-European and worldwide cooperation. Mobility of students and staff for study and training purposes, and cooperation with (non-)academic organisations inside and outside Europe for education and research have been explored and consolidated to various degrees in its faculties and involved central services to the university. So what does the new European programme, Erasmus+ offer KU Leuven and its partners in the KU Leuven Association? The main answer is incentive for innovation.

Erasmus+ will not profoundly transform the way KU Leuven cooperates in international programmes, sets up consortia and organises incoming and outgoing student and staff mobility. Mobility activities have been part of KU Leuven’s education portfolio for years now and are institutionalised through internal procedures and workflows. However, Erasmus+ does provide the opportunity for greater flexibility in funding opportunities for new forms of exchange programmes and educational cooperation projects.

The transition from one funding period to another allows momentum for intra-institutional reflection on different topics, such as finding the right balance between quantity and quality of exchange  cooperation, exploring the implications of more embedded mobility windows in curricula, stimulating underrepresented faculties to submit proposals, searching for more effective and less administratively burdened language support, developing a more comprehensive institutional approach for traineeships and administrative staff mobility, and creating course programmes supported by digital technologies as an alternative or complementary approach to exchange or cooperation within and outside Europe.

Most of the funding under the Erasmus+ architecture has been present in previous European financial programmes. Yet a strong familiarity with what was available before has the danger of favouring a ‘business-as-usual’ attitude, rather than openness for experimentation and innovation. The challenge is thus to use the full potential of the programme and to look to the increased and more flexible possibilities, beyond the familiar elements. KU Leuven takes up this challenge now by actively promoting and supporting Strategic Partnership and Knowledge Alliance project calls that come up with transnational cooperation, (trans)disciplinary education excellence and innovative opportunities for professional development.

How are you making the most of Erasmus+? Share your experiences with us below.

By Johan Evers, Adviser International Office, KU Leuven, Belgium