SINT PETERSBURG - The final conference of the Erasmus Mundus WISHES project took place in Sint Petersburg (Russia) on 17 and 18 May. The conference served as a platform for international officers of higher education institutions out of 10 different countries to network and gain more insight in the Russian higher education system. The European Students’ Union (ESU) was invited to contribute with a perspective on the importance of mobility in the European Higher Education Area. ESU also met with the National Union of Students from Russia to discuss future cooperation.
During the conference several types of mobility cooperation, joint degrees and virtual mobility were presented and discussed. ESU’s Chairperson, Bert Vandenkendelaere, pointed out that European students have high expectations towards the new Multi-Annual Financial Framework post 2013 of the European Union (EU). He said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the EU to give a much needed boost to the mobility numbers all over Europe”.
Furthermore the participant discussed ways to improve the recognition issues which are still the second largest barrier to mobility for European students. For Russia specifically, ESU pushed for an urgent change of the Visa-regulations, which are still holding students away from discovering Russian higher education because of access restrictions, visa costs and excessive red tape.
The final deliverable of the Erasmus Mundus WISHES project was presented at the two day event, being the www.eu-wishes.eu platform on which students can search for studying opportunities abroad in a very easy-to-use and interactive way. Through the platform and its many forums, students are invited to give feedback on the higher education institution they visited, hence creating a peer review guide to higher education institutions around Europe. The portal, entirely non-profit oriented, will be fully functional from August onwards, but the University of Paderborn (Germany) and the other partners in the project are already planning a number of next steps to advertise the platform towards students.
After the closing of the conference Vandenkendelaere also met with the Vice-President of RCU, the National Union of Students of the Russian Federation that was erected last year. The two discussed possible ways of cooperation between ESU and the Russian National Union, and exchanged invitations to their next events.
For more information about the EU Wishes Project: www.eu-wishes.eu or firstname.lastname@example.org