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Frontpage News 2012 Slovenia scholarship programme will spur two-way mobility

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Slovenia scholarship programme will spur two-way mobility

“Students from Slovenia cannot afford go to Norway without enough funding, but the EEA and Norway Grants makes it possible”, says Marja Medved from Slovenia. Scholarship programmes worth €32.8 million are being set up in 11 countries specifically to support the mobility of staff and students between Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and the partner countries.

“We are also active in the Lifelong Learning Programmes (LLP) Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci through the EU, but the grants there are much lower. The Scholarship Programmes through the EEA and Norway Grants focus on the countries where we do not have strong bilateral cooperation right now. We therefore see a big potential, and the programme also complements our work through the LLP”, says Marja Medved from the programme operator CMEPIUS in Slovenia.

CMEPIUS was one of the educational institutions, programme operators and stakeholders participating when the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) organised a conference about the Scholarship Programmes in Bergen.

One aim of the event was to create a meeting arena for institutions and organisations that are looking for partnerships. SIU also launched new webpages for the Scholarship Programmes.

Expands cooperation with partners

The University of Stavanger (UiS) is one of the Norwegian institutions that are interested in finding partners in countries benefiting from the Grants. The university wants to expand their cooperation with countries where they already have established partnerships, such as Poland, Estonia and Hungary.

Students and staff share their experiences from the previous Polich scholarship fund in this short film.  

International coordinator at UiS, Trym N. Holbek, says the university have positive experience from cooperation in these countries, and that the projects have achieved good results. Mr Holbek highlights the cooperation with Poland in engineering technology as particularly successful. The university is now interested in projects that facilitate student and staff exchange for the 2009–14 period.

“There are great opportunities to increase student mobility both ways, which is a goal for our university, especially to make more of our students study abroad”, Mr Holbek says.

Norwegian ambassadors for Poland

Poland is one of the biggest allocators in the Scholarship Programmes, with a portfolio of 469 projects in total. They now want to expand their cooperation with new partners at every educational level, including vocational training and adult education institutions.

Convincing Norwegian students to study in Poland through the EEA and Norway Grants is a challenge, partly because the students already are well funded through the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund.

“We have had 2500 mobility flows both ways between Poland and the donor countries, but only 17 students have come from Norway to Poland through the Grants. Our goal is to achieve a balance in these numbers, and we hope that Norwegian students and academic staff who have been in Poland through the EEA and Norway Grants can be ambassadors for us when they go back to their universities. We would also like to invite Norwegian classes to visit us, so they can see what Polish universities can offer”, says Scholarships Programme Director in Poland, Katarzyna Aleksandrowicz.

Developing and strengthening the educational systems in the partner countries can make it possible to achieve the Grants’ goals of promoting social and economic development.

“Synergy between the different programme areas is one way to achieve this” according to Sector Officer at the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) in Brussels, Torbjørn Grønner.

“Education and research is an area where you can achieve a synergy effect. You may have the same target groups, such as students in higher education and PhD-candidates, who can contribute to research projects. You can also combine this cooperation with other programme areas”, Mr Grønner says.

Photo above: “There are great opportunities to increase student mobility both ways, which is a goal for our university”, says Mr Trym N. Holbek from the University of Stavanger. Here in conversation with Ms Marja Medved from Slovenia.

Text and photo: Frøy Katrine Myrhol/Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education