SOAS University of London

Staff Development

Erasmus Staff Mobility

Erasmus+ Staff mobility Programme

The SOAS Staff Learning and Development Office administers the Erasmus+ scheme for outgoing and incoming staff mobility at SOAS. Erasmus+ offers an opportunity for academic and professional services staff to teach or work at a partner institution in one of the 30 participating countries in Europe. These short visits will allow staff to contribute to, and learn from, best practice, find out first-hand the workings of another European education system or deliver a course with European colleagues. 

The visit should be organised by the member of staff who should also be prepared in return to welcome a visitor to SOAS.

The Erasmus Policy Statement (below) sets out our institutional strategy in relation to the Erasmus Charter (pdf; 610kb)  .

Erasmus Policy Statement

SOAS is one of the most international universities in the world. Our international research and teaching focus is in many respects unique; the School’s student body and academic faculty are more international and more diverse than almost any other UK institution; we have a long history and growing provision of education through distance learning, reaching over 3,000 students across the world in addition to the 5,000 registered on campus ; a foundation programme aimed at international students; whilst we teach more languages than any other UK higher education institution – some 30 non-European languages spoken in the world today, as well as a handful of languages from the Ancient Near East and South Asia.

In 2017 an international working group met to define the key proposed building blocks of an international strategy. This suggests initiatives in the following field:

  • Student recruitment, as this is both major source of income generation as well as the key to the diversity of our student body. Student recruitment includes UG and PGT, but also recruitment to Foundation programmes (in IFCELS), Junior Year Abroad, and summer schools.
  • Student experience, which includes decolonisation of the curriculum, expansion of international opportunities and facilitation of outward study abroad
  • Research and enterprise, which includes international collaborative research partnerships, the promotion of international collaborative authorship, and links with business and government
  • Transnational education (TNE) including online and blended learning and delivery of content overseas.

Underlying all of our international activities there needs to be an emphasis on building the School’s external and international reputation. SOAS is much admired, but too little known internationally, despite its extremely international nature.

At present, a significant proportion of SOAS students do experience an opportunity to study abroad; however, this is exclusively for students who are taking a single subject or joint-subject language programme involving a year abroad, or a two-year MA programme including a study abroad language component.  There is evidence that an international placement improves employability for all students, and particularly for those from a widening participation background. Facilitation of more outward study abroad opportunities is a key goal.

The choice as to which partners to initially target should take into account the following:

  • the strength and diversity of existing links with the institution in question;
  • the international research reputation of the prospective partner;
  • the degree of complementarity in its research agenda with that of SOAS (rather than just Similarity);
  • the extent to which the prospective partner has research links with other institutions with which we might want to associate ourselves;
  • the research capacity of the prospective partner and the extent to which it is willing to commit funding to support the partnership, or external funding could be leveraged;
  • the extent to which potential benefits of partnership might extend beyond research, to either student recruitment, student experience, or TNE delivery.

Geographically, we aim to have institutional partners worldwide selected on the basis of their institutional strength and/or excellence in specific fields. Having a range of partners around the globe ensures that staff and students are able to work with the best and most suitable institutions that will help to achieve individual, departmental, and institutional-wide goals for international collaboration.

Staff teaching exchanges are deeply rooted in academic subjects to ensure that both incoming and outgoing staff benefit from teaching abroad. Considerations for staff training exchanges include careful review of job descriptions to ensure that support staff are best able to share best practice, network and gain new ideas to bring into their roles.

Further development of this policy statement is expected with the implementation of the SOAS International Strategy.

Important Changes & Regulations for 2019-20

  • Priority must be given to those members of staff who have not undertaken a mobility visit before; 
  • Subsistence rates may have changed from previous years and staff should check exact amounts in advance (dependent on country and length of stay). Grants are intended to provide a contribution towards travel and subsistence. All receipts must be submitted via the SOAS Agresso system when claiming costs back, and this should be done no later than 30 days after the end of the visit;
  • Travel cost calculations are now calculated using the distance calculator supported by the European Commission from your point of departure (whether that is the UK or not). It is highly likely that you will need to book tickets well in advance in order for the grant to fully cover the costs of flights, and/or use low cost carriers.  Travel claims may cover travel from the point of departure to the host (but do not include local travel during the mobility as this comes from the subsistence allowance);
  • For teaching mobility a minimum duration of 2 working days is required, to deliver teaching of at least 8 hours per week or part of a week, and the main purpose of the visit must be teaching. Due to funding constraints, most visits will be limited to one week and cannot last longer than 2 weeks;
  • For training mobility. the minimum duration of the training period is 4 days, plus travel;
  • Prior to departure, the teaching programme should be agreed formally by the sending and host institution; evidence must be kept that this has been agreed prior to departure, and any amendments must also be formally agreed and retained;
  • Prior to departure, both the teaching or training programme and the mobility agreement must be agreed and signed by the participant and the Head of Staff Learning and Organisational Development. Electronic / digital (but not typed) signatures are now accepted;
  • On completion of the mobility visit staff will need to complete an online evaluation form which is sent directly from the EU; funds cannot be reimbursed until the form has been completed and this must be donw within 30 days of completing the mobility; 
  • All participants will need to provide a Certificate Of Attendance from the host institution confirming the duration of stay and the number of teaching hours before any funds can be released;
  • All claims for travel and subsistence must be made on the SOAS Agresso system and returned to the Staff Learning and Organisational Development Office in Room 511 no later than 30 days after the end of the visit. All receipts must be provided via Agresso;
  • For travel claims, the distance should be calculated from the real place of departure if the participant is already abroad on a non-Erasmus+ activity;
  • The focus of staff training mobilities has changed to that now the majority of the visit must focus on 'practical skills' and 'exchange of knowledge';
  • The staff member should disseminate learning to colleagues and should provide evidence of this to the Head of Staff Learning & Organisational Development.

Types of Mobility

  1. Teaching Mobility: This allows short teaching visits so that they can contribute to the curriculum of partner institutions. The main purpose of the visit should be for teaching and not research.
  2. Staff Training: Mobility of professional services and teaching staff to allow them to learn from the experiences and good practices of a partner institution and to improve the skills required for their current job. This may take the form of a short secondment period, job-shadowing, study visit, staff training week etc. Training visits can take place at non-partner institutions.

Information about applying for Teacher Mobility (TM) or Staff Training (ST) is available on the separate web pages or from staffdevelopment@soas.ac.uk. Further details of the scheme can be found in the Erasmus Operational Handbook 2019-20.

Funding

Funds for these visits are limited and therefore all funding must be applied for and approved by the Staff Learning and Organisational Development Office. 

Regulations

The British Council stipulates the following rules and regulations which must be adhered to:

  • For teaching mobilities a valid bilateral agreement must be in place which includes provision for staff mobility
  • Travel must take place by 30 September of each year
  • Visits should usually be a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10 working days, excluding travel (our funding makes 5 days more realistic in most cases)
  • All visits must have an agreed work plan, a signed agreement and a follow up evaluation report
  • There should be some dissemination of the outcomes of each visit.

Additionally all visits must adhere to the School's Financial Regulations and Expenses Policy.

Eligibility

  • Staff must be employed by SOAS at the time of the visit but can be on any contract type.

Recognition of Staff Mobility

Under the Erasmus+ programme all participating HEIs must recognise the work involved in the staff mobility. Recognition can include:

  • discussion in SDR process
  • inclusion in application for promotion
  • inclusion in workload allocation models.

It is recommended that the participant plans to disseminate learning to colleagues within their department.

Bilateral Agreements

Bilateral agreements are contractual agreements created between two institutions i.e. between SOAS and our partner institution. The bilateral agreement must specify:

  • duration of contract in academic years
  • names, codes and contact details of the co-ordinators in SOAS and the partner institution
  • incoming and outgoing teaching mobility and/or training mobility

In order to be valid, each bilateral agreement must be signed, stamped and dated by the specific representatives of both SOAS and the partner institution. 

In order to create a Bilateral Agreement, exchange arrangements should be discussed with the partner institution to confirm the teacher and/or training mobility numbers and the contact details of key contacts. Details should be sent to Serena Yeo sy3@soas.ac.uk who will put together the agreement with suitable partner institutions.