The trend towards internationalisation is not only evident in (pre-)school and university education, it can also be seen in adult education (AE). On the one hand, it is evident in the education programmes offered, which often aim at the acquisition of international competences. On the other hand, it manifests itself in the adult education environment, which is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and pluralistic due to social developments (e.g., migration, mobility, globalisation). Dealing with this diversity requires not only a high level of professionalism, but also a positive attitude, openness and tolerance towards new/other things, especially from the educational staff.
It is therefore equally important for participants and teachers in adult education to exchange ideas across borders, to network, to cooperate and to gain new experiences.
The field of adult education (general and work-related AE) is very diverse in Austria: there is a wide range of programmes in different settings, with a large number of providers and responsible actors (AE in special school forms, in higher education institutes, in private AE institutions, in companies, etc.). Therefore, there is no comprehensive strategy for the internationalisation of AE covering areas of AE. Nevertheless, the objectives and priorities set out in the policy documents of the European Commission (e.g., in the Council Recommendation on Education and Training, in the Osnabrück Declaration) are also supported by the AE sector in Austria and are taken as an opportunity to increasingly implement measures to achieve these objectives and priorities.
The EU education programme Erasmus+, which is managed by OeAD, the Agency for Education and Internationalisation, which plays a central role in this context. The “adult education” strand in this programme aims to
- support AE institutions to better network internationally and to modernise;
- increase the competences of AE staff and AE participants, in particular those with fewer opportunities;
- contribute to the enrichment of AE institutions – through foreign guests who teach or learn there for a while, as well as through cooperation with partner institutions abroad.
To achieve these goals, on the one hand there is the learning mobility of individuals (learners with fewer opportunities and staff in AE), which can be applied for through an Erasmus accreditation or a short-term project. On the other hand, there are the partnerships for cooperation (cf. also 13.6), with the two formats cooperation partnerships and smaller partnerships. The application is always submitted by the adult education institution.
The learning mobility for adult learners in key action 1 of the Erasmus+ adult education strand is exclusively targeted at adult learners with fewer opportunities, i.e., disadvantaged people who for economic, social, cultural, geographical or health reasons, due of disabilities, learning difficulties or because of their migration background are faced with obstacles. Funding priority will be given to institutions that provide basic education and wish to send adult learners with low basic sills/key competences abroad.
Learning mobility of adult learners with fewer opportunities is eligible either as individual mobility (i.e. as a single person) or as group mobility (consisting of at least two people). The length of stay for both formats is between two and 30 days. The mobility participants receive a subsidy for travel and subsistence costs from the sending institution, the amount of which depends on the host country. Special grants can be awarded to participants with fewer opportunities.
Teacher and trainer mobility
Erasmus+ also supports stays abroad of trainers and other people working in AE. Mobility stays for the purpose of training or continuous education and training (CET) abroad as well as stays within the framework of partnerships for cooperation can be supported if they directly contribute to the success of the partnership.
Training and continuous education and training
Erasmus+ covers part of the travel and subsistence costs, and possibly also the course fees, of persons travelling abroad under Key Action 1 for the purpose of job shadowing or teaching/training activities at a European host institution, or for the purpose of participating in CET courses.
The duration of the stay is a minimum of two and a maximum of 30 (courses and training), 60 (job shadowing) and 365 days (teaching or training). The application for Erasmus+ funding is made by the home institution, which must justify the sending of the mobility participants through a comprehensible strategy of human resources and organisational development. The sending institution receives a grant for each mobility participant. The amount of the grant depends on the type of stay, the host country and the duration of the stay. For participants with fewer opportunities (people with disabilities, socio-economically disadvantaged persons, etc.), additional funds can be applied for to cover 100% of the costs incurred.
The invitation of foreign experts who contribute to the improvement of teaching, training and learning experiences in the host institution is also eligible for funding. Furthermore, it is possible to invite adult educators in training who would like to complete a traineeship in Austria.
Mobilities within the framework of a partnership for cooperation
Mobility periods can also be completed within the framework of partnerships for cooperation, in which adult education institutions join forces. The applicant organisation defines its own activities. This can be, for example, transnational project meetings or learning, teaching, and training activities. These stays are only funded if they directly contribute to the success of the partnership.
Activities within the framework of partnerships are funded in the form of lump sums. The applicant organisation estimates the total cost of the proposed project and chooses the lump sum that best suits the needs of the institution.
In order to find partner institutions for a partnership project or a mobility stay, one can use the EPALE platform (E-platform for Adult Education in Europe): It is a multilingual, virtual meeting place for all those involved in AE. The EPALE website is dedicated to different thematic fields of general, civic, and cultural AE as well as vocational and in-company CET and invites all interested parties to (inter-)active participation. OeAD is the national EPALE coordination centre and part of the EPALE network, which consists of 35 organisations. EPALE enables its members to network with colleagues throughout Europe and to learn from them. In addition to the exchange of information in the form of blog posts, discussion forums, networks, (online) conferences and workshops, this also takes the form of project partnerships, including mobility visits.