What does it mean for students and faculty to be included in the life of an American university? How to best implement mobility outside the EU amid coronavirus restrictions? ELTE's Award-winning Erasmus+ project is an example that nothing is impossible.

Outside the EU, beyond restrictions

Interview with Julianna Szőke, international Erasmus+ coordinator.

What motivated you to start the project? What was its main objective?

We wanted to establish new partnerships outside the EU so that ELTE students and staff could study, teach, or participate in training courses in a new environment., We also wanted to welcome lecturers and students from partner institutions to enrich the international educational spectrum of our institution. The project also included existing well-functioning partnerships, which helped to further strengthen cooperation. The well-designed structure of the Erasmus+ allows for quality partnerships.

What was the biggest benefit of the project for the participating lecturers and students?

Participants can try themselves in a completely new world than the one in which they spend their everyday lives. Students are exposed to a different attitude and culture of higher education abroad, they can often be involved in longer-term collaborations, and such an experience can be personality-shaping for them.

What is the project outcome of which you are most proud?

During our cooperation with Indiana University Law School, we managed to create a symbiotic relationship where the ELTE faculty members involved can teach short courses in areas that they there was no capacity to teach at that university. This is a wonderful opportunity for Hungarian lecturers, as they can participate in the life of an American university. This has been greatly helped by the introduction of a new funding option in the Erasmus+ programme, the so-called Erasmus+ 20%, which allows 20% of the budget allocated for Intra-EU mobility to be transferred to finance travel outside the EU.

What changes has this project brought about in the institution?

ELTE has improved a lot in terms of credit acceptance in recent years, but this is due not only to this project. The university has developed a process for automatic credit recognition, which is working well based on the initial feedback. …I think this is one of the milestones of our participation in Erasmus+.

What was your most memorable moment?

After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, we were able to welcome two lecturers from Kyiv within the framework of the project, who managed to cross the border thanks to several months of preparatory work. More than that, as one of them was a man who was subject to military service, he had to obtain permission from high-level offices to travel to Hungary for two weeks.

What was the biggest challenge in the implementation?

The coronavirus pandemic broke out at the start of the project. So, as soon as the first mobility started, everything had to be stopped, and almost all mobilities were delayed until the last half of the project period. So, we were supposed to carry out about 80-90 extra-EU mobility projects in one semester, which would have been difficult enough in itself, but then the war broke out. This placed an unexpected psychological and administrative burdens on us. Nevertheless, we managed to carry out a total of 89 mobility projects with 24 institutions from 16 countries. Three institutions were included from Ukraine after the war broke out.

Which countries participated in the project?

Participants travelled from four continents: North and South America, Asia, North Africa, and Europe. We also formed partnerships with the USA, Tunisia and Morocco, Egypt, Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, and Ecuador to provide opportunity for students and faculty to travel. We also worked with Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Bhutan, Thailand, and Vietnam. This list also shows how popular the Asian region is at ELTE, and in Hungary in general.

What does winning the Excellence Award mean to you?

It is an extraordinary honour for ELTE on all levels. Both for my immediate colleagues and the top management.

Institution: Eötvös Loránd University  

Project title: Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility 2019-2022

Measure: Higher Education Mobility Projects / International Credit Mobility (KA1 HED)

Coordinator: Julianna Szőke     

Project website:  

Felícia Deme
Tempus Public Foundation,
Directorate of Communication

Last modified: 19-12-2023