What skills do students develop when they participate in the Erasmus+ ICM (International Credit Mobility) programme? Let’s discover them on World Youth Skills Day.
World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) is organised by UNESCO-UNEVOC on 15 July to celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. Why not use this day as an opportunity to reflect upon the skills that students can develop thanks to our international exchange programmes?
Ca’ Foscari has been involved in the Erasmus+ ICM programme since 2015, when it was inaugurated. The programme’s objectives are ambitious and include promoting self-initiative and entrepreneurship, strengthening job prospects, and improving self-esteem and intercultural awareness.
According to official data, 3,467 programmes have been financed since 2015 for students and staff that have chosen to experience studying or working in a country outside the European Union. At the same time, 8,505 students, teachers and academic staff have come to Italy from non-EU countries thanks to the programme.
The 2018-2021 programme is drawing to a close. It has involved 45 partner universities in 31 countries, bringing 132 students to Venice and taking 60 students abroad.
Overall, from 2015 to 2018, 508 students have participated in the Erasmus+ ICM programme at Ca’ Foscari, both incoming (351 people) and outgoing (157 people). 462 students answered the end-of-programme questionnaire that Ca’ Foscari devised in order to examine which skills had been improved the most.
So what do our students learn thanks to the Erasmus+ ICM programme? First of all, intercultural skills. Out of the 462 people who responded to the 2015/2018 questionnaire, an average of 96.47% reported having gained a better understanding of the value of different cultures. 91.02% think they are more capable of cooperating with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and 87.93% feel more tolerant of other people’s values and behaviour.
Students also develop soft skills, such as problem-solving (94.96%) and curiosity when facing new challenges (93.47%). Students also report having developed greater adaptability (93.33%) and autonomy (92.83%). Over 90% of students report having acquired an improved understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, and being more confident in their abilities.
Incoming students report having improved their digital skills during the Erasmus+ ICM programme, and in particular in the most recent project (2019/2021). In 2018, 80.17% of students reported having improved their digital skills – the percentage has increased during the years from 60.61% in 2015.
Matej Vrebac is a student at the University of Sarajevo. He took MA courses in Italian language and literature at Ca’ Foscari from January to June 2020. Alessandra Azzarelli is a student of the Master’s Degree Programme in Languages, Economics and Institutions of Asia and North Africa. She studied at Université Internationale de Rabat in Morocco from January to June 2021. This is what Matej and Alessandra have shared about their experience.
Matej: My stay in Venice during the Erasmus programme was truly a meaningful experience for me. I was able to listen to lectures and expand my academic knowledge with courses that are not available in my home university. I also perfected my knowledge of Italian while developing my academic skills in an international environment and improving my critical thinking skills. I made some wonderful friends. I also had the opportunity to develop my professional ethics by collaborating with the people I met at Ca’ Foscari.
I believe that all young people should experience the Erasmus programme or another form of international academic mobility at least once in their lifetime. I encourage all young people to make the most of every opportunity. You certainly won’t regret becoming a member of Ca’ Foscari’s community. I’m actually considering returning to Venice for my PhD!
Alessandra: The Erasmus+ ICM programme was an opportunity to develop and improve my linguistic and professional skills. It has allowed me to get to know the local culture and to develop intercultural communication skills. This programme can provide opportunities for your academic and professional future. In fact, thanks to the professor of Arabic language at my host university – who is also the director of the university language centre for the teaching of Arabic as a foreign language — I was offered an internship that I will start in September and that will allow me to gain some practical experience in the world of work.
In our society, which is constantly changing and is increasingly mobile and multicultural, international experiences should be the norm. They are not only an opportunity to study and learn, but also to gain life experience: this is why I encourage everyone to participate in the Erasmus+ ICM programme. There are so many reasons to leave and so few to remain!
The international offices of partner universities also recognise the benefits of the Erasmus+ ICM programme and the skills developed by the students who participate. Here are some comments from Ca’ Foscari’s partner universities in the Erasmus+ ICM 2018 programme.
Yerevan State University: “Students acquire innovative knowledge and skills in various social sciences fields. There is knowledge transfer among partners. Students improve their language communication skills (in English, French, and German). Finally, their employability is enhanced.”
University of Sarajevo: “Gaining international experience and being an ambassador of the University of Sarajevo abroad helps promote our institution and our internationalisation strategy. Students “become international”, their CV is enriched with new experiences, their knowledge of foreign languages is improved, and they become more employable in the world of work after graduating. Universities have the responsibility to harmonise the skills that students acquire with the requirements of the world of work. This is precisely why academic mobility for students and teaching staff can be beneficial.”
Kyoto Institute of Technology: “The Impact on students is significant, as this programme provides a unique international experience which broadens their horizons, improves their communication skills and intercultural awareness, and is a valuable addition to their curriculum.”
The 3rd Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility call for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 is open. The deadline for applications is 30 September 2021 at 1 p.m.