Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

Erasmus+ – for education and research in Europe

2018-11-28

RESEARCH. Malmö University is one of only two universities in Sweden awarded grants for two major projects from Erasmus + strategic partnerships in 2018. Project coordinators at the Faculty of Health and Society and the Faculty of Culture and Society have each received funding from Erasmus+ by 270,000 Euro, approximately 2.8 MSEK.

Erasmus+ is based on EU funding that promotes European mobility at all levels among teachers, researchers and other staff.

– This provides a new opportunity to fund the development of education and research, which translates to great opportunities to get a research project granted and awarded a substantial amount of money, says Carolina Jonsson Malm, grant officer at Malmö University. One beneficial criteria  is to address societal issues and a direct association to education. Erasmus+ as an alternative to funding exists for those who want to apply for research grants to develop and advance their research and education. This applies to the doctoral level as well.

The groups eligible and able to apply for Erasmus+ are teachers, researchers and staff. According to strategy 2022, Malmö University strives for internationalization both in research, education and in finding synergies between. Erasmus funding and bilateral agreements could be very efficient as “gateways” in to the connection to research. It is common for conventional research to overlook how research education can contain research as an important part of learning between doctoral students and senior researchers. The transnational learning is the main point of Erasmus+ funding.

The two researchers in 2018 who had their projects partly funded by Erasmus+ is Jonas Christensen at the Faculty of Health and Society (Social Work) project AgeSam – Aging and Demographic Changes in late modern society and Elisabet Nilsson at the Faculty of Culture and Society (K3) with the VASE – Value Sensitive Design in Higher Education.

Jonas Christensen believes that his projects within an established research network benefited in numerous ways from Erasmus+. Among other ways it contributed to a deeper and more open research collaboration, stronger exchanges, synergies in applications, publications and collaborations at seminars. Shared knowledge, transparency, trust and continuity in meetings is a key factor out of my experience.

– Development of the CareSam network was made possible in a significant way when we saw the potential in developing bilateral Erasmus agreements, where teacher exchanges stimulated collegial meetings in both education and research, says Jonas Christensen. For example, the network has had bilateral agreements when Malmö University could not facilitate the same type of exchange. Cooperation has developed within the network, which contributed to a sustainable continuity with various positive effects. Since the network was first launched in 2010, approximately 60 percent of the research team is still intact.

Elisabet Nilsson, project manager for VASE adds that Erasmus+ does not require the recipient to publish results in scientific journals or present at conferences like many other grants and award programs have as basic criteria.

It is a bit easier to apply for Erasmus+ funding than to apply at many other EU-programs.

– Erasmus is not as complicated or extensive to apply for, and the evaluation process is a bit quicker which is also positive, says Carolina Jonsson Malm. One should submit a clear application addressing the purpose, effect and synergies the project can generate.

International Office is the university department that provides support on how to structure an application and what information to focus on.

– We want Malmö University to be successful and link research to education, but also collaborations outside the academy, said Niklas Nannskog, international manager at the International Office. It is an underutilised way of financing this sort of activity.

The two projects in 2018 that received funding from Erasmus+ are highly societal. AgeSam develops a transnational PhD module and include a social innovative collaborative model, digital support in care for users and professional support.

VASE is about creating a greater awareness of the role values play in design, and about providing students with the skills and tools needed to become responsible designers of the future.

– The Erasmus+ program primarily supports course development and not research activities, says Elisabet Nilsson. For the VASE project, writing articles and presenting papers at conferences will still be part of our work, since it is a form of quality assurance of the teaching material we will develop.

– The AgeSam project group made an inventory of alternative ways of financing to apply for, adds Jonas Christensen. The ambition was to finance an ongoing platform and continuity where we can link network collaboration, education, research and practice. We found that Erasmus+ funding was the most appropriate way for us.

Carolina Jonsson Malm also points out a strategic link to the university's established strategy platform.

– Something to emphasize is that Erasmus+ meets the criteria of the internationalisation strategy as part of the overall strategy, she says. Increasing the proportion of external research funding, focusing on social relevance, social challenges and other areas prioritised by the university is fully in line with Strategy 2022.

– The goal of VASE is to develop teaching resources that teachers at design and development programs can apply and adapt to their courses, says Elisabet Nilsson at K3. All of our teachers at the institution are already raising questions about values in designs, ethical considerations and the responsibility of designers as to the consequences of the systems and products we develop. The hope is that VASE can help further enhance not only the quality of education but also discussions that are being conducted within our research projects.

– I have been working on internationalization issues at Mau for more than 10 years, adds Jonas Christensen. During that period, I have seen the potential of integrating research and education through the acquisition of bilateral Erasmus-funded collaboration, which we feel we are doing in a good way. I have been a coordinator for the network as well as project manager for the subprojects. My own research has been made possible largely because of Erasmus cooperation. In addition, over the years, I have been able to conduct empirical studies in educational research and welfare issues when I combined Erasmus teacher exchange and conducted guest lectures and researchers at different partner universities. Strategically, there is a great potential for Malmö University to develop internationalization and learning processes for sustainability in relation to the possibilities offered by Erasmus and linkages to research programs such as Horizon.

The funding from Erasmus+ does not cover all costs, which means that all universities that are part of the collaboration have to guarantee co-funding. If application work is initiated, you should allocate time to take care of everything and make sure mandate is granted by principals in good time. For Elisabet Nilsson's project, Malmö University is the coordinator, which implies a great administrative responsibility.

– When we assembled our application, I received plenty of help from the International Office with all formalities and all forms to complete, she said. A recommendation is to contact someone who has submitted an application before and ask for advice. Another recommendation is to search for previous applications and be inspired by how to formulate a dissemination of results, project management and quality assurance. You can learn a lot from how earlier applicants structure their projects, pick ideas and adapt to your own project. 

Text: Johan Portland