In spring 2022 the EWP+ consortium reached out to the Higher Education community to take stock of the developments on Erasmus Without Paper (EWP). Therefore a survey was circulated targeted at people working in international offices involved in EWP-implementation at their institution. Up to 700 participants shared their views on several aspects and 419 colleagues answered the whole set of questions.
Current state EWP-implementation
It is clear that the majority of the survey respondents use the EWP Dashboard to connect to EWP for Inter-Institutional agreements (IIAs) and Learning agreements (LAs). The second largest user group consists of users from mobility software developed by third-party providers. When the success rate of exchanges via EWP were questioned about 30% of participants indicated that several IAs/LAs were successfully exchanged via EWP. This means that a majority of respondents still struggle to get EWP working and the biggest obstacle at that time was a lack of support by the EWP consortium. The launch of the ESCI Community Service Desk in April 2022 already anticipated this lack of support and guidance. Other important obstacles were related to partners not being ready to exchange data and delays in deployment of functionalities.
Survey respondents made clear that their National Agency (NA) plays a vital role in providing guidance for HEIs in the digitalisation endeavour. Almost 3 out of 4 respondents indicated the NA as most important source for finding info about EWP while 60% considers trainings & webinars organised by the NA as most useful format to make progress with EWP implementation. Initiatives from the EWP+ consortium such as Erasmus Goes Digital (37,%) webinars and recently created business users groups (40%) are also considered useful formats.
The next set of questions from the survey was targeted at mobility processes that are not yet supported by EWP. The first process in focus is related to student mobility for traineeships and 70% of respondents indicated Erasmus+ Traineeships took place outside Higher Education. Majority of HEIs do not have a tool available for managing LAs and certificates for traineeships. Multilateral agreements were used by half of the participants and it didn't come as a surprise that most respondents using multilateral agreements do so in the context of a European University Alliance. Another set of processes concerned the so-called international mobility with HEIs outside the Erasmus programme countries. No tool is available for 36 (IIA) to 39 (LA) percent of respondents for managing mobility processes with institutions in Erasmus+ partners countries. Finally also the digital management of staff mobility processes was scrutinised and almost half of the participants had no tool available to manage the staff mobility agreements. Less than one third of participants indicated they use the same tool for LAs (26%) and IIAs (32%) for international mobility like the regular Erasmus and 31 percent uses the same tool for learning agreement their staff mobility agreement.
Most wanted features
The final section of the survey concerned the digitalisation priorities. Overall one can conclude that every process is considered important to be digitalised as when asked to give a score on the usefulness to digitise the Erasmus+ administrative processes, each process scored at least 7 on average. When looking at the top 3 most requested features, an automatic process for enabling access to the Online Linguistic Support received the highest score (8,5 out of 10), followed by the certificate of arrival and departure ( 8,3) and the online learning agreement for international student mobility (average of 8,0).
Many of the findings in the survey were underpinned by feedback from Digital Officers and Higher Education Institutions, e.g. at the Erasmus Goes Digital webinars. The current issues with interoperability and EWP-implementation are being addressed in the Interoperability Reinforcement Plan and the EWP+ consortium is working closely together with the Digital Officers to improve the support of end users combined with the ESCI community service desk.
The input from colleagues about their administrative processes that are not yet supported by EWP and priorities for the digitalisation roadmap, will on the one hand inform the ESCI Governance layers for defining the future ESCI roadmap together with the Higher Education Community. On the other hand when further digitising the Erasmus administration the feedback on the current state of affairs will be taken into account in defining solutions for and by the community.