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Erasmus contribution towards modernising the UC and building a European Education Area. Pursued policy objectives

The University of Cantabria (UC) is firmly committed to strengthening its international dimension, which permeates all university activities as stated in its most recent Strategic Plan. Internationalisation is approached as a transversal process closely related to the rest of the objectives of the Plan, namely modernisation of the teaching model, consolidation of high quality research and knowledge transfer, comprehensive digital transformation, improvement of students’ employability and entrepreneurial skills, and enhancement of the local and regional impact of the institution in a socially responsible way.

Considering the adverse global impact caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in international education and the uncertainty of the near future, the Erasmus Programme, more than ever before, is considered the cornerstone of the UC Internationalisation strategy. The policy objectives of the programme are well aligned with the institution’s goals (Action Line 5: Objectives 11 and 12 of the Plan) and provide for an essential instrument to implement its main priority action lines:


Increasing high quality physical mobility of students, teaching and administrative staff and fostering virtual and blended mobility for learning and training, making it accessible to a wider and more diverse population. The UCwill strive to raise the participation of students of all academic levels (undergraduate, Master and Ph. D. candidates) coming from all backgrounds. The UC will design and adopt a pro-active scheme to addressparticipants with social, economic or cultural disadvantages and with disabilities or learning problems, in close  collaboration with other university departments and services within the overall strategy concerning mobility, two priorities will be established, namely to develop creative wand meaningful schemes of blended types of mobilities, reinforcing on-line formats and virtual cooperation, and to boost international credit mobility by optimising the use of research cooperation partnerships and consolidating the existing ones.

Mobility experiences are to be further integrated in the university core activities and a set of meaningful indicators will be established to assess their impact and results, at individual and institutional levels, and in terms of the key competences acquired by the participants. The quality of all mobilities will be improved by the design of a purposeful strategy, which includes better cultural preparation, easier administrative processes, good risk-management protocols and the provision of a reliable and complete range of services.

An effort will be made to increase and improve teaching and staff mobility, so that it contributes to the modernisation of the teaching and the overall university organisation, and has a positive impact on the visibility and recognition of mobility periods and their outcomes towards the participants’ careers. This type of mobilitywill also contribute to strengthen the synergies between research and teaching and will help to better identify common areas of interest, increase the participation in research and cooperation projects and foster the partnerships established at a doctoral level concerning European doctorates and thesis co-tutelles.

Development of cooperation projects among organisations and institutions

One of the most important action-lines in the Internationalisation strategy of the UC within the Erasmus Programme is to increase its participation in all types of Erasmus cooperation projects among organisations and institutions, and specifically, in the European Universities: Partners for Excellence Initiative. To this aim, the UC will resort to its long-term strategic partners both within HEIs and other private and public institutions and agents, and will identify and establish new institutional and discipline-oriented relations. The UC will actively strengthen the offices that deal with the management of these projects.

Development of integrated transnational teaching contents and activities

The design and participation in transnational teaching activities is a priority, which will reinforce the synergies with other university innovative teaching initiatives and will increase mutual academic recognition among universities and countries. The aim is to increase the number and impact of modules, courses and undergraduate and graduate double-joint-multiple degree programmes with a special focus on the development of Erasmus Mundus Masters and Jean Monnet modules. A clear and informative regulation of these activities will be developed and will be included in the general academic regulations of the university, after having been approved by the University Council, and experienced administrative support will be provided to facilitate the management of the activities. Current transnational programmes like the “Introduction to Global Studies” course taught in collaboration with UNC Charlotte (USA) will be strengthened and used as a model for future collaborative projects, including virtual formats.

Reinforcement of strategic partnerships and creation of new alliances

The UC is endowed with an array of reliable and enduring strategic university partners all over the world, and participates in several European and International networks such as the SGroup of universities, CINDA or AIUP. Geographically, the strategic areas of cooperation have been the EU countries, North America (with over 20 MoUs, some of which with Ivy League institutions) and Latin America (Mexico, Chile and Argentina in particular). For international credit mobility outside the EU, the main cooperation areas have been Central Asia, Japan, India, Russia and Northern African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia. This reliable network of strategic partners will be reinforced by identifying new compatible or complementary HEIs, and by optimising the synergies between academic and research areas at the UC.

Together with this network of reliable university partners, the UC is solidly embedded in its regional environment and is deeply engaged with local and regional public bodies and institutions (the Regional Government of Cantabria and the Santander City Council in particular) and other private stakeholders such as Banco de Santander and other private local companies.

Attraction of international students and staff

The UC aims at raising its international profile and attractiveness to incoming students and academics by consolidating the scope and quality of its academic offer in English, not only concerning individual courses but also, undergraduate itineraries with at least 30 ECTS credits, full undergraduate and Master programmes and also, summer programmes. The UC Strategic Plan also envisages courses delivered in other languages.

It will also work at stepping up the number of guest academic lecturers and at strengthening the integration of incoming students within the campus and within the local environment by engaging them in civic and social activities through volunteering and traineeships schemes.

Finally, the UC will work towards creating an alumni exchange student database in collaboration with the CEOE Cantabria (Confederation of Employers) with a twofold purpose: to promote the role of “university ambassadors abroad” and to increase the catalogue of companies and institutions offered to our students for traineeship mobility.

Internationalisation at home

Regardless of the number of participants benefiting from mobility, there will always be a high percentage of non-mobile students and staff. To address the non-mobile population, the UC will design an inclusive strategy that intends to help all students to develop an international mind-set and acquire multicultural competences, by means of the following actions:

  1. To raise the English proficiency of the university community.
  2. To develop a set of courses duly recognised and certified and a set of non-formal purposeful international activities recognised with micro credentials, designed for the development of global competences. The UC already issues a Certificate for International Intensification, which will become an option for all undergraduate students, as it will be converted into a transversal optional course.
  3. To foster the design of pilot teaching initiatives to internationalise the curricula content of programmes and courses.

The UC designed and published its Strategic Plan in 2019. Since then, the world has been living in a completely new scenario due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has and will deeply affect the heart of international education, at least in the short term. Travel restrictions, social distances and the shift to on-line classes will have a significant impact in the experiencing of traditional mobility. However, these challenges could be turned into opportunities by re-defining mobility and adding to it a virtual component, making it more inclusive, reinforcing its engagement in the Universities’ communities and making use of cooperation projects to search for solutions to real academic and societal problems.

The award of the Erasmus University Charter and the active participation in the Erasmus Programme is considered essential for the accomplishment of the objectives included in the UC Internationalisation strategy. The impact of the programme actions will be critical for the modernisation of the institution in the period 2021-2027. It will contribute to the delivery of a competence-oriented and well-rounded education to all students, and to the creation of a global campus with a strong European identity and solid European values within the European Education Area.