«The fact of being surrounded by students from different countries is very enriching, since you observe different ways of obtaining an answer to the same question/same 'briefing' depending on your culture and your way of thinking, which brings a lot of variety to the design projects. Arancha Caballero will soon finish her stay at the University of Hamburg to study a degree in Design (Kommunikation Design), where she has been able to verify the advantages of the Erasmus program, the most outstanding mobility option for European students.
The Sepie (Spanish Service for the Internationalization of Education), attached to the Ministry of Universities, is the National Agency designated by the European Commission for the management of the decentralized actions of the Erasmus program in Spain, in addition to promoting the international projection of universities Spanish.
It manages the renewed Erasmus 2021-2027, with a budget of just over 28,000 million euros for the whole of Europe, to finance mobility projects and cross-border cooperation related to learning for 10 million people of all ages and origins, with specific support to inclusion (disability, refugees, people with fewer resources, etc.).
Alfonso Gentil Álvarez-Ossorio, director of Sepie, highlights the relevance of the latest analyzed data: «In the latest annual report on the Erasmus program of the European Commission (official data 2019-2020) the great success of the program is highlighted, increasingly inclusive and more international. Spain continues to occupy the first position in receiving students, with 48,203 students in Higher Education, well ahead of France (30,045), Germany (29,549) or Italy (27,239)».
Álvarez Ossorio also points out that the program is not only for higher education university students, "but there are student mobilities (for studies and internships) and teaching and training staff (for training abroad and observation periods in educational centers or companies), so the Erasmus program extends to all educational sectors: school education, vocational training, adult education and higher education. An initiative that reaches the members of the EU, in addition to Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey... and more countries since, since 2015, the program is more international, because students and staff can move to almost every country in the world in the higher education sector.
Arancha, enrolled at the Complutense University of Madrid, is part of the student body selected based on a basic premise, in the case of higher education: students who have completed the first year of studies and passed 25% of the credits. From there, the procedures are conditioned by the centers of destination, the type of studies (a motivation letter is also requested during the process)... In his case, he arrived in Germany with a base of knowledge in German that it has allowed him to advance in his vocation: «The level in the field of design in Germany is internationally famous for its prestige, and now I can say that it is true. The learning dynamics are more practical than in Spain. And in terms of language, Hamburg is a very international city, where it is easy to communicate in English if necessary.”
Ángel Verdasco, a Biotechnology graduate student at the University of Extremadura, carried out his Erasmus mobility in Siena, Italy. «He had it in mind since before he knew what career he wanted. The opportunity arose to study in Italy and start without knowing any Italian. The pandemic influenced, of course, that the experience was not completely complete, but it was unforgettable. Ángel finished with a B2 certification in Italian, which helped him to complete his stay, which began with the support of the universal language that the formulas of science represent. He considers that the academic level is higher in Spain, and he continues his training to get to work "in a company laboratory, in assisted reproduction or, who knows, as a Biology teacher."
In the private sphere, the Comillas Pontifical University highlights its level of international mobility as one of the highest among Spanish universities. «As a general rule (points out Arturo Varona, director of the International Relations Service), more than 70% of our students enjoy an international experience, close to 100% in International Relations or Business. And more than 14% of the students and 10% of the faculty come from other countries (25% of postgraduate students are foreigners)».
In the case of CEU San Pablo University, Ainhoa Uribe, vice-rector for Internationalization, highlights the need for international experience: “It broadens the horizons of the future, helps to work in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams, and fosters autonomy and responsibility. To do this, we work around two axes: external internationalization (living an experience abroad) and internal (living on an international campus)». They have more than 350 agreements with foreign universities, including prestigious entities such as UCLA, Chicago, Boston, or Fordham, and offer numerous degrees, totally or partially, in English, which attracts many foreign students to CEU.
From Chicago, Cristina Chivato and Laura Maldonado, Pharmacy graduates from CEU San Pablo, are pursuing a postgraduate degree in Clinical Trials at the University of Chicago. «University teaching entails here (they highlight) a very active participation of the students. Oral presentations, reasoned teamwork and assignments are the order of the day. We improve our skills in research and communication, and coexistence on an international campus, with students from the five continents, makes us understand the complexity and variety of the world in which we live».
For its part, Banco Santander has promoted a pioneering initiative to support Higher Education for 25 years through Santander Universities: training, entrepreneurship and employability through scholarship, award and grant programs in collaboration with universities and institutions around the world . «Many of them (they comment) are intended to promote international mobility to promote excellence and equal opportunities. Only last year and in Spain, we allocated more than 4,000 scholarships for international mobility».
Yassine Abcha, from Tunisia, is a beneficiary of a program that Banco Santander (has agreements with nearly 1,000 universities and institutions in 15 countries) maintains with the University of Jaén (Santander Talent Scholarships). «I found out about the Santander Scholarships, an additional aid for the best grades, at the University of Jaén (says Yassine). I applied and I am about to finish my studies in Telecommunications Engineering». Before long, he has overcome the language barrier and is preparing for his next step; a master's degree from the Polytechnic of Catalonia or the Technical University of Munich: "I would like to work in fiber optics, but you never know, the field of telecommunications is very broad)."
Another example, in this case linked to sports, is AGM Sports, a specialized company that allows access to one of the thousands of scholarships granted by American universities, which are used to finance, totally or partially, studies in the US. Americans seek top players abroad for athletic scholarships, and AGM Sports serves as a bridge to opportunities that will increase based on athletic level (there are more than 3,000 American universities that award athletic scholarships).
As an example of the above, Marta Falceto studies Mathematics at Mississippi State University thanks to a tennis scholarship. «My sister (she comments) was already studying with a sports scholarship in the US thanks to AGM, so I decided to start the process, especially when I saw the great experience my sister was having. I thought it would be a very good opportunity for my academic and sports future. The most complicated part of the process is passing the SAT and TOEFL exams in English, but once that was over, it was all about talking to coaches from different universities until I found the one that best fit my perspectives. A unique opportunity."