ENPMOB: Comparative study of European and national-level policies and practices on academic mobility

Term / Duration

November 2010 - January 2012


European Commission - EACEA, Lifelong Learning Programme (ERASMUS Accompanying Measures)


Nuffic and DAAD


The ENPMOB project was dedicated to the exploration and analysis of international student (and staff) mobility policies and strategies at the European level and across the 32 countries participating in the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) of the European Union.

ACA served as project coordinator and worked closely with colleagues from Nuffic and DAAD to realise the project’s goals.

Building on the quantitative foundation laid by another ACA study completed in 2011 – Mapping mobility in European higher education – ENPMOB has aimed to make sense of the concrete set of policy objectives, instruments, responsible actors, monitoring actions and timeline specifications for mobility articulated in the study countries and within the broader European Union (EU) framework.

The findings of the project were published in the series ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education, under the title European and national policies for academic mobility. Linking rhetoric, practice and mobility trends. The publication provides a substantial contribution to ACA’s body of work focused on international mobility. It includes a macro-level comparison of the mobility policies of the Europe 32 countries and the EU itself. There is also an historical account and analysis of the evolution of EU mobility policies over the past 25 years as well as in-depth presentations of the national mobility policies in eight selected countries – Austria, Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. A central issue within the study was the question of “convergence” or “divergence” between European and national-level policies for academic mobility. Attention is also paid to the alignment (or lack thereof) between stated policy objectives and the ‘real world’, in the form of discernible mobility trends and the practical application of steering instruments.

Selected findings

While maintaining a very positive view about "mobility" in general, European countries have proven significantly more cautious when it comes to adopting extremely ambitious mobility goals at the national level. In general, they are simply less euphoric in this regard, although much seems to depend on the context in which such goals are elaborated. Specifically, national officials are much more "generous" and "enthusiastic" about mobility in the Bologna context (that has many "carrots" and close to no "sticks"), but they become increasingly modest in target-setting at the EU and at the national level, where they can ultimately be held accountable.

Also, very importantly, while student mobility seems to be - in one form or another - a national policy objective across Europe, very few European countries actually have a fully-fledged national policy for mobility in place, i.e. one that clearly articulates specific policy elements, such as differentiated:

  • modes of mobility (incoming credit/degree mobility, outgoing credit/degree mobility, of various mobile groups -  student/researchers/faculty/ staff);
  • rationales behind the promotion of different modes of mobility;
  • purposes of mobility (e.g. for study, internship, study-related activities, others);
  • target levels and fields of study at which students should be mobile;
  • target geographical regions and/or countries for different modes of mobility;
  • quantitative targets; and
  • support instruments.

Order and contact information

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher - Lemmens Verlag.

For further information about the project, please contact Irina Ferencz at ACA.

This project was carried out with the support of the Lifelong Learning programme Erasmus action of the European Union.