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The European Commission shares lessons learnt from Erasmus Mundus

In mid-July, the European Commission made available  two reports about the Erasmus Mundus Programme (EM). One of the reports, entitled Experience and lessons learnt from the first generation of EMMC, presents the analysis of 36 individual assessments of final reports submitted by first generation Erasmus Mundus Master Courses (EMMC), selected in 2004 and 2005. The other one is a survey report of the combined Cluster on Sustainability and Recognition of Degrees and Joint Degrees project. Drawing on the experience of previous EM projects, both reports aim to identify existing good practices, as well as difficulties faced by EM study programmes.

Examples of best practices presented in the first report cover areas such as programme management, quality assurance, engagement of external actors, promotion and recruitment, and funding. Apart from best practices, it also challenges some myths such as ‘the more partners the merrier’. It was found, for example, that partners in large consortia risk under-enrollment at a certain stage and also that a graduate certificate with multiple seals for a single study period tends to invite more suspicion rather than trust from potential employers.

Both reports conclude that much work is needed to improve the recognition of EM degrees. Despite the reputation of the Erasmus Mundus Programme, there is no such a thing as an ‘Erasmus Mundus Degree’ awarded by a centralised ‘authoritative’ body. Differences in national legislations, institutional administrative regulations, and in academic ‘scoring cultures’, have prevented the award of joint degrees for 19 out of the 36 first-generation EM consortia.

Finally, both reports express doubt about the sustainability of EM study programmes without the funding support of the European Commission. The ‘reputation capital’ earned by some established EM programmes and sustained through the Erasmus Mundus Brand Name programme have enabled some EM programmes to attract students without relying on funding from the European Union. However, the costs of maintaining a high quality and well networked international programme, pose high financial risks for the institutions, especially in time of budgetary constraints.

The first report was prepared by four independent experts: Lucia Franchi, Sylvia Gómez-Ansón, Michel Jouve and Frank Wilson and the second by Ecorys UK Ltd. Both are available on the website of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

European Commission: Experience and lessons learnt from the first generation of EMMC European Commission: Survey Report - Cluster on Sustainability and Recognition of Degrees and Joint Degrees Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)