HERE Study Visit “Inclusion in Internationalisation and Mobility” (21-22.11.2019, Brussels, Belgium)

Title of event: Study visit for national higher education reform experts ‘Inclusive mobility: from good intensions to measurable outcomes’, conducted with the support of the EU

Dates: November 21-22, 2019

Venue: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Programme and materials: 

Participants: representatives of higher education institutions (HEIs), Ministries of Education of the countries neighboring with the EU, National Erasmus+ Offices (HERE), EU experts and partner countries experts, representatives of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Total number of participants to the event: 30 persons.

Ukraine was represented by the delegate of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Deputy Head of the Committee Secretariat, Kozievska Olena; Director General of the Directorate of Higher and Adult Education, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Oleg Sharov.


The study visit aimed at getting insights by the national HERE team representative on the good practices of Flanders in regard to strategies of internationalization, inclusion and academic mobility by the example of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Given the relative novelty of the topics of inclusion and mobility for most universities, another goal of the study visit was to review these topics from the perspective of the institutional strategy and the national policy-making. Hence, the event gathered together various stakeholders, who have actively been working on these issues in a number of ways, both on the HEIs’ and on the national level.

During the study visit the participants have become aware of the notion ‘inclusion’, categories of persons with social inclusion, nation-wise distinctive features of persons to those with social inclusion, issues with implementation of the inclusive mobility programmes (including credit mobility), and opportunities to tackle those challenges across different academic cultures and institutional settings.

The results of the study visit are to promote discussions on the issues of inclusion and mobility as the current EU priorities, their representative within the EU programmes, and facilitate the research by the SPHERE TEAM on responses/adaptive mechanisms in use by the partner counties.

Therefore, the study visit provided an opportunity to share experience on implementation of mobility programmes for students with special learning needs and allowed for acquiring valuable recommendations and practical solutions.

The seminar was opened by:
Romain Meeusen, Vice-Rector on Internationalization and Rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB),
Sophie Beernaerts, Director of the EACEA Department (EC),
Magalie Soenen, Education and Training Department of the Flemish Government
Elizabeth Colucci, SPHERE TEAM representative.

Key outcomes of the study visit:

During the seminar the participants had an opportunity to:
• Get acquainted with the impact of the national policy of social inclusion on the environment/context of universities and society. In that, the participants have investigated the strategy on inclusive mobility of Flanders and its correlation with the EU aims and priorities of the Bologna process. Special attention was given to various institutional strategies on social inclusion and their role in proactive response of universities towards students with special learning needs.
• Get acquainted with the EU goals on social inclusion and mobility, analyze their representation in institutional strategies, types of EU-funded social inclusion programmes (including credit mobility), and peculiarities of their implementation on the institutional level; receive information on the usage of inclusive mobility opportunities available within the current EU programmes.
• Examine a problem of defining ‘social inclusion’ in the higher education system, clarify types of social inclusion and possibilities to cater for students with special learning needs within the frame of academic mobility programmes.
• Estimate the role of different stakeholders (universities that implement the mobility programmes in partner counties, national agencies, Ministries of Education, European Commission) in promoting inclusive mobility and define specific recommendations to improve its efficiency and subsequent development.
• Obtain understanding of the necessary institutional structures and instruments that support or hinder inclusive mobility at universities, inter alia, questionnaires, data collection, quality assurance tools etc.

Ukrainian experience with social mobility was presented by Olena Kozievska, Deputy Head of the Education, Science and Innovation Committee Secretariat. She provided background information on legislative peculiarities of inclusion in Ukraine, specifications of the organization of the study process of students with special learning needs, and highlighted the development areas of the national policy-making. In that, mobility is a relatively recent notion of the education legislation. It firstly appeared in 2014 in the Law of Ukraine ‘On Higher Education’ and gave impetus to subsequent development of mobility. For a long time, Ukraine was characterized by the segregation model of obtaining higher education by the disabled in specialized boarding schools. This approach deprived students with special learning needs of the possibility to experience the usual environment. The Law of Ukraine ‘On Education’ passed in 2017 called to notice the problems of inclusion. It introduced a new notion of a person with special learning needs, that is a person who requires temporary or constant support for her/his constitutional right for education to be fulfilled. This definition encompasses a wide range of people, including people with inclusion, ethnic minorities, migrants etc.

In her speech Olena Kozievska highlighted that the above mentioned term defines, first and foremost, the disabled and provided information on state subsidies and guarantees they get. In the meantime, there is a range of factors that make mobility of such students problematics. These development areas of the national policy of Ukraine include: information provision on academic mobility opportunities, the need to establish the higher education internationalization strategy that could set the national priorities and demonstrate the all-inclusive clear state policy in the area.

Conclusions and recommendations for Ukraine:

Comparing opportunities and state of affairs as regards social inclusion of Belgium and Ukraine is rather difficult, first and foremost, due to funding volumes. The example of managing inclusive mobility in Belgium on the national and institutional level clearly demonstrates a structured and practical approach many elements of which Ukraine should adopt, such:

1. Preparation of the strategic document on higher education internationalization that includes the issues of social dimension, inter alia, inclusive mobility, with clear goals, qualitative and quantitative targets and their performance indicators.
2. Compulsory development of institutional internationalization strategies that should include peculiarities of the university, priorities on the development of academic mobility, including inclusive mobility.
3. Provide the right on defining categories of people who require inclusive approached to universities (with regard to implementation of the academic mobility programmes).
4. Improving the data collection mechanism on people that belong to inclusive categories, as well as their needs and types of support during the studies at higher education institutions.
5. Improving the mechanism of monitoring institutional internationalization activities (international study and research projects) that would allow to get analytics, including that on inclusive mobility.

UA Presentation (Olena Kozievska)

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