An exchange of ideas

For Matt Vesty, university has opened up a new possibility that he wasn’t expecting. He is off to Sweden for a semester to broaden his language skills and experience another culture through an ERASMUS exchange.

“I thought it would be a convenient way to add to my degree and gain teaching experience over there,” he explains.

“I have not been to Sweden before, but a Swedish student came over last year and explained what it was like. There is a great focus on language and teaching which complements what I’m doing, and I’ve always wanted to go there.”

Linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) student Matt has basic Swedish which he is hoping to develop further during his stay, but speaking the language is not a requirement for students wishing to take part in an exchange.

Participants study a wide variety of subjects including English Language, Sport and Exercise Science, Nursing, Psychology, Spanish, Law, German, Public Relations and French.

As many of the University’s partner institutions teach all or some of their modules in English, participants don’t need to be studying a language to travel.

Student mobility

The ERASMUS exchange scheme has been running at the University since 1987 with the aim of increasing student mobility within the European community. Hundreds of students have taken part in the scheme, which allows them to study at one or two of the University’s partner institutions in Europe for a maximum of one academic year.

Over the years, Wolverhampton students have visited Finland, Cyprus, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Students receive a contribution grant to their living expenses and the institution meets the costs of the study if they are from European partners, so they do not incur any additional costs for the period they spend on an ERASMUS programme.

Benefits for students

The benefits are wide-ranging.

Izabela Wojcik, a Tourism Management and French student, spent five months in Nice and was nervous about having language difficulties.

“I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to speak the language or cope with exams. But thankfully that was not so bad. After two months I found myself thinking in French – that was a new experience for me!” she says.

Mature English and History student Katrina Brown describes studying at the University of Versailles, Saint-Quentin, through ERASMUS as one of the “best adventures of my life”.

“I felt I had accomplished a rite of passage, albeit a few years late, had made new friends and had a wonderful time getting to know Paris, and, perhaps most importantly, developed massively in confidence.”

There are also advantages for international students who wish to visit Wolverhampton, and over the years the University has welcomed hundreds of enthusiastic students from across Europe. Magdalena Brodzinska from Poland where she studies English Philology, is currently at the University studying English, French and The American Civil War, and is having a great time.

“I am enjoying my stay in Wolverhampton. I love the University, the broad choice of modules to study, friendly teachers and very attractive library. It is a great educational experience to study in Wolverhampton, I find it very different than my home-university and I love exploring these differences. ERASMUS is also an unforgettable time for a young person because of the many new acquaintances, spending time with people of various cultures.”

Benefits for staff

ERASMUS also enables staff to take part in the teaching and staff training mobility scheme.

Many staff have taken advantage of the scheme to visit partner institutions in Europe to teach and run workshops in their subject.

This gives them the opportunity to network, exchange ideas, learn about each other’s culture and compare working environments.

Graeme Simpson from the School of Health and Wellbeing took part in such an exchange.

He says: “Not only are the teaching placements worthwhile in themselves, the experience provides valuable material to benefit the teaching of the subject to University of Wolverhampton social work students at all levels of study, especially through reciprocal visits.”

Enhance your CV

From the University’s point of view, taking part in an ERASMUS exchange enhances students’ experiences, skills and adds to their CVs.

Wolverhampton actively promotes these opportunities to students and encourages them to grasp this wonderful opportunity to broaden their horizons with both hands.

As Jo Gittens, Director, International, says: “The ERASMUS scheme provides an opportunity for a student to travel, experience different cultures and enhance their employability skills. We support and promote this scheme during studies as a commitment to global citizenship and we benefit from the enrichment these students bring to the community here in Wolverhampton. Staff are also catered for with many having taken up the chance to network and exchange ideas in their chosen field and I wholly endorse this activity.”

The students that visit Wolverhampton add to the cultural diversity of the University and bring a fresh outlook on the advantages of higher education.

For Wolverhampton students, an ERASMUS exchange can be an enormously exciting and beneficial aspect of their studies, and an experience to remember.