Digital Technology in Managing Erasmus+ Mobilities: Efficiency Gains and Impact Analysis from Spanish, Italian, and Turkish Universities
- The Average Numbers of Beneficiaries (ANB) of the four types of Erasmus+ mobilities: SMS (Student Mobility for Studies), SMP (Student Mobility for Placement), STA (Staff Mobility for Teaching Assignment), and STT (Staff Mobility for Training).
- This input yielded four variables for each HEI: ANB_SMS, ANB_SMP, ANB_STA, and ANB_STT.
- The Number of Printed Pages (NPP) used for each one of the documents required by each type of mobility (see Table 1), which would rely on templates provided by the EU or models created by each HEI.
- This input yielded 59 variables for each HEI, corresponding to the 59 types of documents listed in Table 1 (those in the rows of STA and STT are counted twice): NPP_GA_SMS for the Grant Agreements of SMS mobilities, NPP_LA_SMS for the Learning Agreements, etc.
- The Number of IRO Staff Members (NSM), their Yearly Hours of Work (YHW) per person, the Percentage of the yearly hours taken by SMS/SMP/STA/STT PaperWork (PMPW), the ‘M’ meaning ‘mobilities’, and the Percentage taken by Other PaperWork (POPW), such as interinstitutional agreements, visa letters, passport letters, and internal communications.
- Total working weeks saved in managing their current yearly numbers of mobilities. This was obtained by recomputing the total times invested in the management of the four types of mobilities, computing the post-digitalization values of PMPW (Percentage of the yearly hours taken by Mobilities PaperWork) and POPW (Percentage taken by Other PaperWork) and taking into account the Time Saving Factors. The difference in minutes from the original value, returned by the equation NSM x YHW x (PMPW + POPW), was turned to working weeks by making the corresponding divisions.
- Reduction of workload experienced by the IRO staff members. This is simply a percentage value computed by comparing the original amount of time devoted to mobilities paperwork and other paperwork with the updated amount that incorporated the TSF values.
- Potential increase in the number of mobilities that could be handled by the current staff under their current workload. This was computed as an updated value of the variables Average Numbers of Beneficiaries (ANB) of each HEI, not considering the increase due to paperwork, but to additional efforts made in the preparation and management of mobilities: advice on logistics (travel, accommodation, etc.), cultural awareness, academic and linguistic support, monitoring of incidents and needs, etc. The computation was a conservative one, assuming that the staff’s yearly hours not invested in mobilities paperwork or other paperwork (i.e., YHW × (100 − PMPW − POPW)) would be devoted to those efforts in the Erasmus+ programme.
- With more than 300,000 higher education students participating annually in Erasmus+ mobilities, saving an average of 45 printed pages in management paperwork (see Table 2) implies a reduction of more than 13.5 million prints every year, which entails enormous environmental impact not only in relation to paper, but also transport, packaging, ink, electricity, and storage. The mobilities of teachers and administrative staff imply an extra 3.6 million prints saved yearly.
- In terms of staff productivity, the figures in Table 5 reveal an expectation of average reductions above 55% of the time spent on paperwork, which would result in a reduced workload for the IRO staff members, and contribute significantly to improving management diligence from the point of view of the beneficiaries of the mobilities: fewer errors, shorter or no delays, etc. The IRO staff would be able to use the saved time on aspects that have traditionally stood out in the satisfaction polls as needing improvements or more extensive coverage , such as the cultural preparations and logistic support given to beneficiaries before their mobilities, the follow-up and support offered during their stays abroad, and the dissemination of the attained results after returning.
- From a different perspective, the time savings reveal an opportunity to manage an average of 80% more mobilities with the same resources and staff currently available. Effectively, this removes one bottleneck that has prevented HEIs from offering the Erasmus+ experiences to a greater number of people, thus paving the road for more effective usage of the programme’s budget and multiplication of the return from the massive public investment, whose figures are already positive as reported by D’Hombres .
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|SMS (Student Mobility for Studies)|
|SMP (Student Mobility for Placement)|
|STA (Staff Mobility for Teaching Assignment) and STT (Staff Mobility for Training)|
|Paper Wastage||Number of Printed Pages (NPP)|
|Per SMS beneficiary||45||79||31||39|
|Per SMP beneficiary||31||76||24||36|
|Per STA beneficiary||25||44||20||25|
|Per STT beneficiary||24||41||20||25|
|Total (including other paperwork)||23,647||5664||24,339||43,757|
|Mobility Types and |
|Total Average Processing Times (In Minutes)|
|SMS and SMP||Grant agreement||15,016||2599||18,367||23,226|
|Learning agreement/Work programme||25,377||28,214||18,239||30,613|
|Outgoing application form||31,497||21,279||6284||3974|
|Certificate of arrival||1797||743||3118||1852|
|Transcript of records||2517||1772||3339||1750|
|Bank details form||1502||8809||1837||2183|
|Social security/tax declaration||2760||0||1837||3974|
|Letter of acceptance to entrants||275||101||1214||875|
|Copy of incoming ID/passport||295||1519||1281||5352|
|Copy of incoming insurance||591||1316||2562||1078|
|Incoming application form||295||1772||1281||977|
|STA and STT||Grant agreement||2428||1823||2793||1709|
|Letter of acceptance||470||34||349||279|
|Certificate of attendance||470||34||549||279|
|Report of expenses||1311||270||1396||773|
|Certificate of participation||328||135||349||279|
|Mobility Types and Documents||Time Saving Factors (See Explanation In Section 3)|
|SMS and SMP||Grant agreement||0.7|
|Learning agreement/Work programme||0.3|
|Outgoing application form||0.3|
|Certificate of arrival||0.3|
|Transcript of records||0.3|
|Bank details form||0.1|
|Social security/tax declaration||0.2|
|Letter of acceptance to entrants||0.7|
|Copy of incoming ID/passport||0.2|
|Copy of incoming insurance||0.2|
|Incoming application form||0.8|
|STA and STT||Grant agreement||0.7|
|Letter of acceptance||0.7|
|Certificate of attendance||0.3|
|Report of expenses||0.8|
|Certificate of participation||0.2|
|Productivity Gains Derived from Time Savings||SU||IZTECH||UVIGO||UNINA|
|Total working weeks saved in managing the current yearly numbers of mobilities.||185||240||128||220|
|Reduction of workload experienced by the IRO staff members (in % of time devoted to paperwork).||56.6%||56.9%||53.2%||54.8%|
|Potential increase in the number of mobilities that could be handled by the current staff under their current workload.||75.9%||75.7%||87.8%||82.5%|
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López-Nores, M.; Pazos-Arias, J.J.; Gölcü, A.; Kavrar, Ö. Digital Technology in Managing Erasmus+ Mobilities: Efficiency Gains and Impact Analysis from Spanish, Italian, and Turkish Universities. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 9804. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199804
López-Nores M, Pazos-Arias JJ, Gölcü A, Kavrar Ö. Digital Technology in Managing Erasmus+ Mobilities: Efficiency Gains and Impact Analysis from Spanish, Italian, and Turkish Universities. Applied Sciences. 2022; 12(19):9804. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199804Chicago/Turabian Style
López-Nores, Martín, José J. Pazos-Arias, Abdulkadir Gölcü, and Ömer Kavrar. 2022. "Digital Technology in Managing Erasmus+ Mobilities: Efficiency Gains and Impact Analysis from Spanish, Italian, and Turkish Universities" Applied Sciences 12, no. 19: 9804. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199804