In order to reflect geographical and organizational diversity within the Erasmus community and the target groups, RIPEC partnership consists of six universities including two Italian (The University of Tuscia, Scuola Superiore Carolina Albasio), one Spanish (Universidad de Cadiz), one Greek (Panteio Panepistmio Koinonikon Kaipolitikon Epistimon), one Polish (Wyzsza Szkola Kultury Spolecznej i Medialnej) and one Czech University (Univerzita Jana Evangelisty Purkyne V Usti Nad Labem). The project will benefit from the active involvement of more than thirty staff from at least ten universities (including not only partner universities but the other universities within their network). Survey as a key research method is applied in this project. The surveys state the experience of students and staff in mobility management during the COVID19 outbreak as well as their needs, expectations and the most innovative solutions suggested.
RIPEC consortium will engage in the production of six different outputs, outlined during the project’s preparatory stage. More specifically, the project outputs will be:
- Surveys to students and to staff: The COVID19 outbreak’s impact on academic mobility has been a subject of extensive conversation within the international education community in Europe and elsewhere. The European Association for International Education (EAIE) survey1 (released in March 2020) dedicated some questions to the subject of mobility in an effort to gather evidence of the ways and extents to which the public health crisis is affecting international mobility in relation to European higher education. According to this study, 75% of the respondents were impacted in their activities related to mobility. The present Surveys to students and staff want to investigate innovative solutions adopted for minimizing or in some cases even preventing the aforementioned negative impact through research among the very target groups: Erasmus students and IR/E staff.
- E-platform and Mobile application on Erasmus mobility management in case of emergency: Needs analysis is carried out through collecting data in the first phase of the project while communication flow was investigated at EU and national level in each of the partner’s countries, from the viewpoint of Erasmus mobility management. Main problems and most innovative solutions will be highlighted, together with the most relevant experiences (official documents, University’s internal protocols, good practices among partner Universities, media contributions, Embassies and National Agencies communications, etc). In terms of elements of innovation, it appears that at the time being, no similar instruments exist and it can represent an important database for developing further researches on COVID19 impact, once the emergency will be over. Particular attention will be devoted to the creation of a browsing system based on keywords since this format is more adequate to modern consultation than a more traditional database. Similarities among contributions will be highlighted and specific research filters created. In addition, if applicable, digital media content will also be created. Despite the availability of an app for Erasmus purposes, a specific app for emergency management in the Erasmus community is necessary to run communication flow between those who request it and the information system. This app can be developed for mobile phones or a chatbot within Telegram facilitating real-time communication and supports the communication/information needs of the affected community. The realization of this app requires following different steps such as analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation phases. The use of a ChatBot would also allow the use of voice recognition and selection of the language by the applicants. It is also interesting to develop a simple procedure so that the system managers can create FAQ files quickly from the real-time exchanges that take place. The expected impact of this achievement is first, availability of reliable and high-quality information to all interested stakeholders on innovative solutions for managing emergencies from the viewpoint of students’ mobility and second, awareness raised amongst IR/E offices on the importance of adopting sharing and innovative practices on the project topic and third, increased visibility for virtuous practices, to be disseminated also at the decision-maker’s level. The database will be publicized and accessible through the project’s website and from each partner’s website. The advantage is to impress an interpretative trajectory to the information collected by the partners and to disseminate the research results in an easier and more sensible way. The app also will serve as a prototype for further innovations regarding international mobility management. For this reason, its coding will be available upon request to interested parties.
- Forum for public discussion: The forum will represent an occasion for enlarging the debate beyond the partnership and regardless of possible still persisting mobility issues. It will also be a safe space where discussions can happen and emotions can be processed in a shared way among target groups. COVID19 outbreak is a shocking event for individuals and society as a whole. General assessment of COVID-19 impact on the target communities in each one of the partner countries will be proposed as discussion topics on the forum. The forum format will be stimulated by the publications of trending topics regarding the project, news, official documents and public statements, in a blog fashion, in order to foster interaction and encourage the exchange of good practices.
- Video interviews/testimonials: At this very moment, the virtual discussion is more than ever important for Universities’ activities of any kind. Also, videos have proven to be extremely effective in conveying messages directly and quickly, thus grasping the attention of the viewer more easily than traditional written content. The videos will cover different topics from basic practical tips for managing mobility in case of emergency, to documents and practical suggestions for both staff and students, to the experiences of University managers and decision-makers. Innovative practices will be shared at different levels, thus valorizing virtuous contributions by Erasmus stakeholders and promoting them in the wider Erasmus community. Video interviews will also create an occasion for different individuals to share their experiences and be seen in their needs and empowered for the solutions they found for the project topic. Overall, the release of the videos is expected to boost options for further research in the social science field on COVID19 impact among the target communities and allow for innovative solutions to be offered at all levels of the decision-making process regarding the management of Erasmus mobility in case of emergency.
- Blueprint on innovative Erasmus mobility management in case of emergency for students and staff: As stated above, RIPEC project aims at recognizing through research shared problems and solutions, and adopt innovative methods and tools for dealing with emergency management in the framework of Erasmus mobility. Some Universities had better organization and managerial capacity, so the Blueprint will highlight the most innovative practices, methods, and tools for emergency management in the framework of Erasmus management. The Blueprint will also recognize the future impact, and develop new methods, practices, tools and also infrastructures that will be useful to support Universities, mainly IR/E staff, s at risk of similar circumstances by upskilling risk management capacities and thus eliminating undesired consequences. The Blueprint will investigate and recognize the best and effective coordination with the responsible and relative bodies (ministries, embassies, etc…) and adopt innovative methods for dealing with managing emergencies.