Get an international cooperation and networking started: Go on a European exchange!

Published: 2023-08-11

At one department at LUSEM they have done it for more than twenty years, at another they are just getting started. And at the International office the experience is great. Learn more about the possibilities to go on a European exchange as a teacher or administrative staff and all the benefits it can provide.

Markus Lahtinen has been on teacher exchanges to Bilbao several times, every time equally rewarding. Photo: Markus Lahtinen

Did you know that all employees at Lund University can apply for Erasmus+ funding for international exchange in Europe? Teaching staff, researchers and doctoral students can receive funding for teaching, lectures, seminars, supervision, develop a curriculum and examinations and administrative staff can receive funding for staff training at a partner university in Europe. To find out more we met with Ulrika, Markus and Joakim, three colleagues with knowledge and good experience of this type of exchange.

"To visit another university can generate spinoff effects beyond the teacher exchange like new development of teaching materials and research collaboration", says Markus Lahtinen, teacher at Department of Informatics. Markus has been away on teacher exchange, above all in Spain, many times through the years and has become a kind of ambassador at his department. 

At Department of Economics awareness of the possibilities to go abroad on an exchange through the Erasmus+ Programme is just starting to spread.

"About a year ago Ulrika was invited to inform us about the Erasmus possibilities at one of our Monday meetings, and the easy-going application process increased my curiosity and I decided to try it myself. So, after just three months or so I went to the University of Porto, where I had a very rewarding experience that gave me the opportunity to connect with numerous colleagues in Porto through meetings, a sort of `shadowing´and seminars. In addition to connecting to the faculty as well as the university management, we also pushed for a tighter cooperation between our two master's programs in finance," explains Joakim Gullstrand, Head of Department of Economics.

He continues:

"Considering our vision at LUSEM to create an even more International environment and to increase the status of learning and teaching, this exchange opportunity is something that fits right in as it gives teachers the possibility to build their international networks. I also consider this as a way to reward teaching, not least for colleagues that  teach a lot. Hence, we have decided to add extra funds to those teachers when they apply for an ERASMUS exchange. Colleagues with a lot of external research funds have however already several opportunities to build international networks, which is less evident for colleagues with a higher degree of teaching, at least not to the same extent."

Except for a number of agreements of their own, set up by Markus at Department of Informatics, Ulrika Qvist Mathiesen, Head of the International office, is in charge of the LUSEM agreements with universities in Europe. She can help staff at LUSEM, both teaching and non-teaching, with information about existing agreements and to set up new ones. 

Markus Lahtinen visited University of Calabria some years ago where he gave guest lectures. Photo: Private.

Who can go and what requirements

Non-teaching staff can go on the so called staff training exchange and teachers can apply for two different Erasmus+ exchange programmes, the teaching staff mobility or, if not interested in teaching, the staff training. This means that doctoral students can apply for as many as three different Erasmus programmes since they, being both students and staff, also can apply for the student exchange.

As an example of staff training exchange for administrative staff Ulrika tells about an upcoming trip to Great Britain during the fall with a delegation from Lund University: 

"Together with colleagues in Lund working, just like me, with international relations and student exchange,I will go to Great Britain and Ireland with the aim to build new relations and strengthen existing ones,and at least half of the trip is financed by Erasmus funds."

The requirements and conditions are relatively easy to meet. Markus says that the process of applying for the grant and getting accepted by the host institution is usually rather simple, provided that there is an agreement. When it comes to length of stay usually one requirement is to stay at least two working days at the university you are visiting.

New this year is the possibility to go on an exchange to Great Britain, even if they are not part of the EU. But then the requirement is instead a stay of at least 5 days, Ulrika explains.

"When it comes to teacher exchange, LUSEM needs to have signed a formal Erasmus mobility agreement with the host Institution. However, an agreement is not necessary for the administrative staff exchange."

The exchange in Porto was a very positive experience for Joakim Gullstrand, a visit that generated increased cooperation. Photo: shutterstock

Advantages and what to bring back

All three can only see advantages with this type of exchange. Markus stresses that since most costs are covered by the funding and this type of grant is available in more or less unlimited quantities, it's a bit of a shame not to use them.

"One purpose as I see it, is to strengthen European competitiveness. For teachers it can also lead to strengthening the ties between the universities in terms of both teaching and research," Markus says.

And what about LUSEM? How does the exchange programme affect us? Coming back the staff always have experience, but of course it can look a little different depending on who you are and where you've been. Regardless, all three agree upon that some useful experience always comes with the exchange. 

LUSEM has also received visitors from other universities; Department of Informatics has had guest teachers several times and Department of Economics did a teacher exchange with Porto. Exchange with administrative staff coming here has happened a couple of times. But the more we go away and network, the more people may want to come here, Ulrika thinks.

And now what?

Summing up, the circumstances for a future development of European international exchange seem to be favorable at LUSEM. What Markus would like to develop further is department- and also staff wide collaboration within LUSEM in order to increase knowledge and interchange:

"I see great opportunities to develop and change aiming for a new and improved teaching role", Markus says.

Ulrika is hoping for increased opportunities when it comes to guest teachers in the future:

"If we ask at the departments, what courses and teachers that are interested in getting guest teachers from abroad we could welcome specific teachers to LUSEM to come and teach on our courses."

Last, but not least, Joakim's vision is to gradually increase interest in going on exchange and thereby provide input from international environments. In order to reach this goal he will continue to support and encourage the teachers and to facilitate this development. One way of doing this is to bring it up during performance appraisal, another is to compensate by deducting hours.

More about the The Erasmus+ Programme

To reach the Lund University vision of being a world-class university  internationalisation is one of six priority areas. The Erasmus+ Programme represents an important opportunity in this work.

Erasmus+ teaching staff mobility

Erasmus+ staff training

Benefits of international exchange

  • An overall international experience.
  • Guest teachers being interesting element for LUSEM students.
  • Increased research collaboration.
  • Cultural exchange.
  • Networking.
  • Input to teaching.
  • Breaks up the autonomous teacher perspective.
  • Widened views.
  • New ideas.


Ulrika Qvist Mathiesen

Joakim Gullstrand

Markus Lahtinen