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Supporting learning mobility: progress, obstacles and way forward

The study was carried out within the context of the European Commission’s plan to adopt a proposal for a Council Recommendation on the new learning mobility framework. The new Recommendation will aim to install learning mobility as a norm rather than an exception for all learners and staff in all education and training sectors, youth, and sport. The study provided the evidence base through mapping and analysing existing evidence and studies on cross-border learning mobility in formal, non-formal, and informal settings throughout the European Union and beyond. The core focus of that exercise was to identify incentives and obstacles to learning mobility. The study also assessed the current data collection and monitoring practices and propose ways to enhance the learning mobility data monitoring system. The conclusions and policy recommendations from this study fed into the Commission’s preparation of the proposal for the new Recommendation, which is planned for the third quarter of 2023. 

The study:                      

  • Mapped and analysed existing evidence and studies regarding transnational learning mobility in formal, non-formal and informal settings with a focus on identification of incentives and obstacles to learning mobility.
  • Assessed the availability and quality of statistical data, indicators and monitoring of learning mobility.
  • Involved and engaged stakeholders through interviews, focus groups, public consultation, and validation workshop.
  • Presented case studies on monitoring and incentivising learning mobility.
  • Identified and evaluated solutions and interventions where the EU would have an added value, either to overcome the obstacles or to boost learning mobility.
  • Proposed recommendations on promoting learning mobility and addressing obstacles to it, including on how to further strengthen the evidence base.

The study has implemented:

  • Review of existing evidence and studies including policy documents; previous studies, monitoring reports and evaluations; documents and studies prepared by international and stakeholder organisations; academic literature; online resources; and position papers and guidance resources on learning mobility.
  • Country-specific case studies on data collection approaches for monitoring learning mobility.
  • Good practice case studies on incentivising learning mobility.
  • Multilingual focus groups with non-mobile learners.
  • Focus groups with stakeholders.
  • Exploratory interviews with the study Steering Group members and other European Commission officials.
  • Interviews for country-specific and good-practice case studies.
  • Additional interviews for filling in the remaining data gaps and validating/clarifying the emerging findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

The study offered an innovative method to dig deeper about obstacles for mobility through multilingual focus groups with non-mobile learners and staff. The study team ran 10 focus groups in different languages with the specific target groups. The idea to run such a method stemmed from the fact that, while drivers and benefits of mobility for mobile people are relatively well-known from the existing evidence, the deep causes and models of barriers to mobility remain somewhat unexplored. The key problem here is that it is relatively simple to receive data from mobile people via various monitoring systems and surveys, because they participate in the monitored mobility programmes, whereas the non-mobile people are difficult to indicate, reach and talk to. Their issues remain hidden. With this method, we aimed to start breaking this limit and addressing the non-mobile persons. Since one of the largest barriers for mobility is not knowing a foreign language,  10 focus groups were organised in different European languages so that people speaking in various languages could be reached.