Cross-border student and staff mobility as key peace-building instrument among European countries and driver for the circulation of ideas, innovation and graduates is politically enticing. Hence, student and staff mobility in Europe is increasing partially as a result of such mobility promotion and funding instruments as ERASMUS+. Yet, such growth is shown to be unbalanced. The most worrying is that students from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds are less inclined to partake in student mobility than students from more prosperous socio-economic backgrounds, thereby turning ERASMUS+ into a sort of social selection mechanism. The same studies suggest that the social segregation of certain Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) contributed to the unbalanced mobility pattern and call for more equal mobility uptakes across universities through tailored incentives. Empirical research among the project’s partners indicates that reduced mobility uptake in remote and socially segregated HEIs also corresponds with lesser capacities of International Relations Offices (IROs).
This project responds to the European Commission’s commitment to reinforce ERASMUS+ programme “in particular by reaching out to increasing numbers of people with fewer opportunities,” as those served by the type of HEIs mentioned above. The project, titled “ROAMING – Strengthening International Staff & Student Mobility Offices in the West Balkans,” aims at reducing the unbalanced international mobility uptake of remote and less privileged HEIs in the West Balkans by strengthening the capacity of their International Relations Offices. To this end, we are working to establish a consortium with a mix of experienced and inexperienced Higher Education Institutions from the West Balkans in matters related to ERASMUS+ from Albania, Kosovo* and Montenegro, willing to cooperate with an experienced university from an ERASMUS member country and another university from an associated country, North Macedonia.