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Erasmus Without Paper 2023 user groups survey

Results of survey to collect examples for improved guidelines for higher education institutions.

Legal notice

The report was prepared by the EWP+ consortium. It reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission is not liable for any consequence stemming from the reuse of this publication.

On this page

  • about
  • results
  • main issues reported
  • next steps

About the survey

In early 2023 DG EAC and the EWP+ consortium reviewed all fields in the Erasmus+ intra-European inter-institutional agreements (IIAs) and learning agreements (LAs) to improve usability and clarity for end users. Part of this work is a new comprehensive guide for higher education institutions on how to manage digital IIAs and LAs via the Erasmus Without Paper (EWP) Network.

In order to ensure that the guide will cover all the main aspects on which higher education institutions (HEIs) need further clarity and guidance, a dedicated survey was launched in the EWP User Groups platform.

The purpose of the survey was to collect examples from colleagues in International Relations Offices on situations they have encountered when using EWP where it was unclear for them what to do or their partner institution had a different understanding of what to do. The objective was to capture all such examples from users of different systems and provide clarifications or recommendations to foster a shared understanding among all higher education institutions. The survey was open from 4 May to 15 May 2023.

Main results

In total, 405 colleagues from different International Relations Offices across Europe responded to the survey. Replies were received from the following countries:

Distribution of replies by country
Country Total number of replies
Austria 15
Belgium 2
Croatia 3
Czechia 3
Denmark 5
Estonia 6
Finland 4
France 5
Germany 108
Greece 2
Hungary 9
Iceland 2
Italy 86
Netherlands 22
Poland 37
Portugal 1
Slovakia 19
Slovenia 4
Spain 63
Turkiye 4

The respondents represent users of diverse systems that facilitate the management of IIAs and LAs. The responses covered all the main ways HEIs connect to the EWP Network: that is, via a third party software provider, via a direct connection through an in-house system or via the EWP Dashboard. Responses were received from the following systems:

  • Be Smart
  • Cantieri informatici
  • EWP Dashboard
  • IS4U
  • Mobility-Online
  • MoveOn
  • Solenovo
  • USOS
  • In-house solutions

Main examples reported related to IIAs

HEIs structure their management of IIAs very differently. Some HEIs have a centralised workflow to manage IIAs, most often through one central international office, while others have a decentralised workflow involving different faculties and departments. The diverse approaches to managing IIAs, on different levels of the administrative structures, and current system limitations, result in users experiencing mutual cooperation challenges in the EWP Network.

In addition to different administrative structures, the multiplicity of systems used by partner universities results in specific individual approaches to each IIA. Different systems have, or have had, limitations, such as restrictions in partnership options or the inability to sign one IIA for all areas of cooperation.

Users report communication challenges when exchanging with partners through the EWP Network. For example, many users reported partners failing to send back their approved version of the IIA which causes delays and incomplete processes. There is a need to allow for more communication through the EWP Network, e.g. exchanging comments or messages, to minimise the need to exchange information outside the network (e.g. via emails).

Many users report confusion around the use of ISCED codes. Partners may use 2, 3 or 4 digit ISCED codes, unofficial ISCED codes or even wrong codes. This contributes to misunderstandings and additional work when setting up IIAs.

Users also need more clarity on the approval process in EWP and how to manage any internal required approvals/signatures before the agreement is formally approved in the Network.

Many HEIs report challenges relating to setting up IIAs for Blended Intensive Programmes. While there is no requirement to have a specific IIA for each Blended Intensive Programme, many respondents indicated that they prefer to create additional IIAs for this purpose with their partners and need recommendations on how they can approach this. The most common reason indicated for this is that nominations are linked to IIAs in some systems and therefore additional places must be “created” in order to prevent BIP nominations taking up places in existing IIAs.

Several users reported discrepancies between the official ECHE list and the EWP catalogue (e.g., name of HEI). Furthermore, having names only available in the original language and not in English can make it difficult to look up HEIs in the system.

In general, more clarity on each field in the agreements is needed in order for HEIs to have a clear and shared understanding when setting up IIAs.

Main examples reported relating to LAs

Users report that colleagues have a different understanding on the use of the administrative contact person field at the receiving organisation. The main issue is that it is is not always clear where to find up-to-date and correct information on the administrative contact. This is especially an issue for systems that appear to be highly dependent on the correctness of the data in the Learning Agreement in order to complete the approval process.

Furthermore, many users report discrepancies and misunderstandings regarding what fields are mandatory in LA and how to fill them in. There is a need to further clarify the data standards that apply to each field.

Some HEIs have doubts regarding changes of LAs. For example, what fields can be changed? When is the appropriate time to make the changes? What is the right sequence? How many changes are allowed?

Users are also unsure how to proceed with mobilities for a full academic year (including those extended for the second semester after the mobility started and when a mobility takes place during two academic years).

Many users report a lack of clarity around the European Student Identifier (ESI). Some are not sure if issuing an ESI for mobility students is mandatory and why it is a visible part of the LA template since it is not meant to be filled in manually by the IRO but rather exchanged on a technical level.

The issue of partners not being ready to exchange LAs is a big challenge reported by many users. Sometimes a partner is not connected yet to the EWP Network, sometimes the partner is connected but is for different reasons not using EWP yet (has not activated the APIs related to LAs) and sometimes the partner is simply not responsive.

In addition, when LAs are successfully approved in the Network, students are still asked to provide pdf copies or to fill in a new “LA” in the host HEI system for different administrative reasons, resulting in additional work for the student and sometimes the partner HEI.

Next steps

The EWP+ consortium and DG EAC take note of all issues reported through the survey. They will be addressed as much as possible in new user guidelines under preparation and by updating the FAQs on the European Student Card Initiative where relevant. System specific concerns will be consulted with the providers in question.

The replies given also serve as a basis to prepare upcoming communication activities and webinars. We thank all of you who contributed your time to reply to the survey.