Perspectives of studying abroad The case of the University College of Teacher Education in Lower Austria
Authors: Edda Polz
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This study investigates criteria that influence the development of students’ mobility at the University College of Teacher Education in Lower Austria over the last 12 years. Generally, there is an increase on the number of incoming students while there is a decrease on the number of outgoing students. To identify reasons for this development, a total of 223 learning agreements have been analysed. In order to help interpret results, interviews with students engaging in an Erasmus programme aiming at spending a term studying abroad and a person in charge of coordinating Erasmus programmes have been held. In accordance with other studies on student mobility, this research identifies aspects that are generally conducive and others which are unfavourable for study abroad. The analyses of the outcomes show that the prospect of gaining intercultural experience, the interest in further developing soft skills, the language of instruction at the university and country of destination on the one hand, and the conditions at the home university including the amount of credits recognised by the sending institution on students’ return, as well as the probability of time loss on the other hand are the main criteria that are influential on a teacher trainee’s decision whether to spend a semester studying in a foreign country. Moreover, strategies for encouraging student mobility such as the organisation of information events, the provision of language courses, and a more extensive credit transfer system for outgoing students are identified.