PORTUGAL - Health & Education
General Director, Agencia Nacional Erasmus +
Ana Cristina Miranda Perdigão, Director of Portuguese Erasmus+ National Agency (Education and Training). She is currently responsible for the management of Erasmus+ Program 2021-2027, support for internationalization of education and training and implementation of the national higher education housing program. Previous, she was a Coordinating Professor at Lisbon Polytechnic—IPL, served as Vice-President between 2012 and 2020, where she assumed responsibility for internationalization, academic affairs, quality, and accreditation areas. As Vice-President of IPL, she was in charge for defining the implementation strategy of the Erasmus+ Programme and further international mobility and cooperation activities. Between 2009 and 2012 was Vice-President of ISCAL–Lisbon Accounting and Business School, a branch of IPL, where she has been associated since 1991, responsible for lectures units of European Union Law, European Competition Law, and Civil Procedural Law. Ana Perdigão holds a law degree from the Lisbon School of Law–Universidade Católica Portuguesa and Master in European Studies – Legal Dominant, by the Institute of European Studies from the same University.
The key objectives of the National Agency (NA) are to foster mobility and partnerships within Erasmus+ in Portugal, particularly for the education and training sectors (E&T). The Erasmus+ E&T NA also supports the internationalization of education and training organizations in Portugal, as well as the implementation of students’ national strategy for accommodation focused on higher education, managing the corresponding recovery and resilience plan funding in Portugal.
These are critical horizontal dimensions for the entire Erasmus+ Programme, so they are approached by international partnerships either through projects for students and staff mobility or for partnerships to develop specific and thematic projects. These partnerships, particularly, are frequently developed with specific thematic approaches and objectives related to these dimensions’ issues. Projects usually foster debate over democracy and citizenship or environmental responsibility, as well as the development of new tools or methodologies promoting green practices and shared democratic values. Besides, immersion in international and multicultural experiences and contact with other languages and individuals are proven to be determinants for social cohesion and democracy, bringing together different cultures and sensibilities, while working towards common purposes. Digital approaches and environmental sustainability are not only combined through options such as virtual or blended mobility, but as well through all choices favored to enable projects to be more environmentally friendly: for instance, Erasmus+ promotes traveling by train instead of taking a flight, whenever possible. We should also stress that the overall programme is presently supported by IT platforms, at all levels of work and project management, seeking a paperless-driven purpose to increase environmental friendliness.
The main internationalization tool in what concerns higher education institutions is for sure Erasmus+, and that is even more true to other education and training sectors such as school education, vocational education and training, and adult education, which are also under the NA management responsibilities. So, it is only logical that the Agency has an overall management framework related to internationalization. But more specifically, fostering mobility, partnerships projects and transnational cooperation activities (developed by the NA, or by the NA and other partner organizations) are all fruitful to developing the E&T internationalization prospects.
Besides a serious evolution of mobility figures, over the years (we manage Erasmus for Higher Education since 1987 and Leonardo da Vinci, for Vocational Education and Training, since 1995), with an average growth rate of 14% for the 2014-2020 programme, more than 190.000 students, teachers and staff have been enrolled in mobility and projects’ activities. Portuguese organizations continue very much interested in Erasmus+ and their participation has grown over the last two years. In 2021 and 2022, PTNA funded more than 869 projects and 41.000 participants, most of all approaching the European priorities above mentioned. We have been accomplishing an average funding realization of around 100% all over the years, and more recently we should stress that mobility figures after the pandemic have all regained momentum, even though considering that inflation and the invasion of Ukraine are serious issues Europe has to face.
Our most significant roles are, on one side, to communicate and disseminate the programme, its objectives, and how to apply, and, on the other side, to monitor and support our beneficiaries, meaning those organizations which get funding to accomplish a mobility or partnership project. So, most of the Agency’s work focus on these processes, monitoring activities and results’ progression, how projects are developed and report their accomplishments, how participants and target the public adequately benefit from projects and, finally, how results are disseminated so other organizations might know how the Erasmus+ is truly valuable. This overall support and monitoring would not be possible without close cooperation among the Agency’s staff and each participant organization, namely through regular contact, monitoring meetings, and thematic events, such as sharing good practices examples.
The most tangible and positive changes that we have been acknowledging are related to employability, as most participants benefit from a stay abroad (either through mobility or through a partnership project), benefiting as well from opportunities to accomplish traineeships, for instance, and level and skill up in other contexts. If this applies mainly to young people, we should stress also that organizations benefit enormously from the networking processes over Europe (and beyond), not only for educational purposes but also for research purposes, whenever staff participates. Connections among higher education institutions all over Europe are most relevant and synergic when we think of other programmes, such as Horizon Europe, or other E+ actions such as the European Universities Initiative. And besides these impacts which are by now quite noticeable, we should emphasize that the European identity growing acknowledgment is probably largely connected to the mobility and interconnection process that the Erasmus+ enabled. Moreover, we truly believe that Erasmus+ is a valuable tool for organizational innovation, for personal and professional development, and, ultimately, for human growth and social peace.