If Erasmus stands for students as the European dream stands for citizens, we all must strive to keep it moving. No matter what shape or rhythm, this too must go on for education and knowledge to flourish despite COVID. When Erasmus came alive in the late 80’s, it brought infinite possibilities for thousands of young European Union students to share experiences by learning, to take the journey of culture beyond borders, expanding aspirations across all academic faculties and Universities. The acronym speaks for itself-European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. Looking at it closely, Erasmus also brought us joint EU research teams, adding exceptional value to the process of higher education across all Member States.
It was indeed born out of a dream of peace and stability. In a way, it brought us together in a similar fashion COVID pandemic is now bringing society and solidarity.
Erasmus has since bridged into a multitude of shapes and mobility programmes for students inbound and outbound into Europe. It has indeed become a + (Erasmus +). Other continents followed suit with Brazil and Lusophone African countries in the case of Portugal, as well Asia and America.
Now that most students find themselves at home, mobility should not be foregone. It may become more euro centric as further regions deal with immediate confinement restrictions. But because hope is an essential element of Erasmus, this too should make the case for looking beyond borders in higher education. At Catolica we are continuing to invest and attract European and international students for the upcoming semesters in all our flagship programmes. With all courses fully taught online, we surely will be able to dedicate to learning across borders as a fundamental pillar of our institution. It is the stuff Europe and its values are made of. However, the challenge will be to add the cultural element in a remote mode.
Technology will continue to play a decisive role in higher education’s content and mobility. As Institutions, we need to act swiftly and invest in our own communication heritage. As platforms and online activities take control of our daily lives, oral tradition and cultural exchange too should move to wi-fi. Sharing knowledge, just as sharing stories, will take our students across borders and perpetuate the network Erasmus started to build three decades ago. And while we cannot travel, our minds can - our students hopefully will too.
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