Technological advances and digitalisation have contributed to people living and interacting in an increasingly globalised world in recent decades. This development has also had an impact on education. Great importance has long been attached to the cross-border mobility of learners and teachers as well as to transnational cooperation between educational and research institutions. These not only promote international competences and global learning, they also bring about openness to the world and a better understanding of diversity. Furthermore, they are beneficial to the social, cultural, and economic advancement of society as a whole.
In Austria, a wide range of mobility and cooperation programmes in education, science and research is available to the entire education chain – from elementary education, through school and higher education to adult education.
Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth, and sport, plays a central role in this context. This programme promotes cooperation between educational institutions at all levels of education as well as cross-border mobility for individuals and groups, for example in the form of study visits, internships, teaching and training activities, exchange projects, etc. Additional offers are made by the Erasmus+ funded networks Euroguidance, Europass, Eurodesk and eTwinning. All these activities should not only bring benefits for the participating individuals or institutions, they should also strengthen the internationalisation of the Austrian education system as a whole and support national education policy priorities.
These priorities include the introduction of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which was established when the federal law of the same name came into force in March 2016. By assigning qualifications to one of eight levels, the aim is to improve the understanding of and confidence in these qualifications, which should promote cross-border mobility (cf. also chapter 2.5).
Another education policy priority is the implementation of the recommendation on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience adopted by the European Council in November 2020, which should lead to modern, attractive VET systems that are flexible for the digital age and ecological change. In addition to a number of targets, four quantitative benchmarks were defined to be achieved by 2025, including 8% of VET learners benefiting from learning mobility abroad. Achieving this benchmark is a high priority for Austrian education policy.
At higher education institutes (HEI), mobility periods have in many cases become a regular part of studies. In order to promote transnational mobility and the internationalisation of studies and teaching at public universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities and university colleges of teacher education, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) adopted the Higher Education Mobility and Internationalisation Strategy for Higher Education 2020-2030 (HMIS 2030) in 2020. Following its motto “There are many routes to internationalisation”, HMIS 2030 pursues a holistic approach to the internationalisation of studies and teaching: It therefore addresses all levels and areas of HE institutions, as well as all HEI-members – students, teachers, and non-academic staff. They all shape the culture at and environment of HE institutions.