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Higher education student and staff mobility project
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

ESIEA Graduate School of Engineering, delivering a 5-year degree equivalent to a Master of Science and with a student body of approximately 1,200 students on two campuses, has long made internationalization a strong priority. Because we are convinced of its immense positive impact in terms of personal enrichment and professional development, an international experience in the form of work or study has been compulsory for our students for more than 15 years. We have recently increased the required duration of the experience from 2 to 3 months. Although today, the majority of our students validate their international experience through a summer job or a work placement, student testimonials lead us to believe that longer periods (4 months or more) have the highest positive impact on their employability. Hence, our primary internationalization objective is to make longer periods abroad available to the largest number of students. ESIEA’s initial Erasmus envelope provided for 11 study mobilities, 4 work placements, 2 teaching mobilities and 1 staff training mobility. Study, mobility and staff training mobility objectives were met; strategic use of the flexibility between the 4 budgets as well as the OM budget allowed us to increase the number of work placements to 7, nearly doubling the number foreseen. ESIEA as a whole recruits a wide diversity of students. The 18 students benefiting from the Erasmus program 2015-2016 reflect that diversity: some are profoundly urban, others have grown up in the countryside. Some are the second- or third-generation children of immigrants. Some of the students’ parents are executives, while others are farmers or artisans. Additionally, it is particularly gratifying to note that nearly 40% of beneficiaries were women, in an engineering school context where not more than 20% of the student body is female. At ESIEA, we have used the Erasmus+ program and the BCI program (France-Quebec) as catalysts to create a momentum in which study periods abroad are becoming the norm. During the academic year 2015-2016, in addition to the 11 students who spent a semester or a year studying on Erasmus exchanges, ESIEA sent 43 other students on semester programs. Destinations included Quebec but also Bangkok, Taipei, Beijing, and Seoul. Going beyond the Erasmus+ program, ESIEA used its own funds to finance a cohort of 18 students for a semester on the campus of our longtime Erasmus partner Glyndwr University in Wales. Given the tenuous status of the United Kingdom within Europe at the present time, ESIEA is committed to finding other solutions and financing mechanisms to continue sending our students for study periods with our best UK partners. We are also looking for new partners willing to accept cohorts, particularly in Scotland. The 54 total study mobilities achieved during the academic year 2015-2016 represent an all-time high for our institution. The Erasmus+ program, amongst others, has helped us increase the momentum. Our ambition is to grow the numbers even further for the year 2016-2017. To reach this goal, in addition to the cohort program in Wales, we are sending 15 students to University Consortium Pori (Finland) on a negotiated fee-paying basis during the second semester of 2016-2017. ESIEA also has a sandwich program. Its students, who continually alternate between study on campus and work in their host companies, traditionally did not have access to study abroad programs. Since 2014-2015, however, ESIEA has put in place a program by which one of our Erasmus partners takes in all of these students during the 3rd year of study for a 3-week intensive English training program. This program is financed by the companies that host ESIEA's sandwich program students. In addition to the increased study mobilities, ESIEA’s strong Erasmus partnerships have allowed us to offer our students regular placement opportunities in companies hosted on our Erasmus partners’ campuses. These placements have proved highly beneficial to the companies as well as to the students involved; the opportunities will be renewed for 2016-2017. And finally, thanks to an extremely strong partnership with Hogeschool van Amsterdam, we have created a joint module on intercultural awareness that is being taught for the first time on both campuses. The majority of ESIEA’s students study abroad during the second semester of their third year of study, or during their fourth year of study. This module targets ESIEA students during the first semester of their third year of study with the aim of better preparing them to identify and cope with cultural differences during their mandatory time abroad. The module includes shared teaching materials, videoconferences, one-on-one skype and email exchanges and shared student production, including student videos on “stereotype busting”. We have high hopes for this year’s first edition of the module and have already identified areas of improvement and expansion for the coming years.
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