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Higher education student and staff mobility project
Start date: Jun 1, 2014, End date: Sep 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The main objective of this project was to increase our participation in student and staff mobility across Robert Gordon University. STUDENT MOBILITY Currently, there is only one course which includes mandatory student mobility and so the vast majority of our student mobility is voluntary. This can prove to be very challenging as young people in the UK in general are not so knowledgeable about mobility opportunities as they are in other countries and on many occasions, the first time they are aware of it is when they come to University. In addition, as we are relatively geographically remote, many of our students have never travelled overseas before and so the thought of a mobility period can be very daunting. Due to the length of postgraduate programmes in Scotland (1 year), our main target for student mobility is our undergraduate cohort, although we did succeed in sending out our first Doctoral student in 2015/16 as well as 1 postgraduate student on a work placement. 83.4% of our student mobility was for study while the remaining 16.6% were work placements. Nearly all our mobile study students study abroad for one semester due to our Academic Regulations, and the period can differ from anything from 3 months up to 6 months. We are particularly proud of the number of nursing students we send on study abroad as this requires a lot more organisation than a standard study period as they are involved with patients and their care and their are complex clinical requirements that must be completed in order to satisy the regulations of The Nursing and Midwifery Council. We have recently conducted a research survey into the perceptions of mobility throughout RGU's student population - the purpose of which was to identify the levels of awareness; identify the barriers to mobility which are specific to our institution; and to ascertain the best way to gain students' notice. It was interesting to note that the majority of students who were aware of mobility opportunities found out by word of mouth - either from previous students or academic staff. Therefore, one of the benefits of sending students out is that they will talk about their experiences on return and encourage further students to go abroad. One very good example of this is in Gray's School of Art - every student who undertakes an Erasmus study period has the opportunity to exhibit at the annual Erasmus Exhibition which is properly curated and given a 2 week display period in the entrance to the Art School. Students are given the opportunity to display work that they created while on study abroad, along with a personal statement as to what they achieved and what impact study abroad had on them - this is not only a fabulous experience for them but, because it is a very visible exhibition, all other students can directly see the benefits that studying abroad had on these students. It appears that outbound student mobility has been on the increase since the introduction of this annual exhibition a couple of years ago, from 11 students in 2013/14 to an anticipated 20 students in 2015/16. In 2014/15, an active ESN (Erasmus Student Network) section was created at RGU and in the space of one year has one several ESN awards - this came about directly as a result of one of our students returning from an Erasmus study period abroad and being so enthused by the whole experience, that he wanted to create an ESN Section in order that mobility opportunities were given a higher profile by students for students. The purpose of ESN RGU is not only to provide social events and a memorable experience in RGU and Aberdeen for the inbound students, but also to create awareness of mobility amongst home students. All activities and trips are open to all students, and ESN is one of the highest profile societies in the University. STAFF MOBILITY Staff mobility has always been a recognised activity here at RGU since its introduction in the Socrates Programme and until recently, we regularly sent out in excess of 35 STA visits every year. However, due to a decrease in the amount of funding allocated to RGU for these activities, the number of STA visits we have been able to achieve has decreased accordingly. In September 2015, 60 staff had indicated that they would like to undertake an STA visit, but funding was not available for this amount and so our aspirations had to be managed; while we were on course to deliver 25 STA visits, due to unforeseen work commitments and personal reasons, several visits had to be postponed at the last minute and it was too late to arrange replacement visits. In addition to our STA mobility, 3 staff undertook STT visits and a further 9 staff visits were undertaken to visit students and set up new partnerships. The longer term impact of all the above activities will be an increased awareness and desire to participate in mobility for both students and staff and help RGU achieve its goal of increasing its mobility figures.

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