Lesson:Erasmus role-play

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Note to teachers: The following role-play has been used successfully with advanced level adult students. It doesn't follow standard recommendations for teachers regarding avoidance of certain taboo subjects and should therefore only be used with a group that the teacher has "tested" on previous occasions with other, possibly less polemic issues and provided the teacher is confident of his/her ability to put out fires if need be...

Method[edit source]

The lead-in consists of a series of three dictation exercises for the last 10-15 minutes of three consecutive classes. These texts serve as the background to the role-play and once correction of each paragraph has been made, it should be discussed fully before going on to the role-play. Natural (?) pauses are marked /

Once the background has been dealt with, and to prevent any suspicion of foul play, students pick their roles out of a "hat" and spend as long as they want to prepare their role, asking the teacher for help with any language if done as a classroom activity, or for homework.

Background[edit source]

These paragaphs are to be dictated, with recommended pauses at "/".

The EU member states are having to cut down on / public spending in order to / accommodate the new members. / Regardless of the impact / education has on society / and business alike, / the first budgets to be hit / are education and social services. / Thus, the European Commission / has decided to review the status of Erasmus, / an EU-wide university student exchange programme, / with a possible view to / phasing it out over the next few years. /

Whilst supporters claim that it / fulfills an important role within / the general philosophy of a Europe without borders, / critics consider it has / too many weaknesses, / not least of which is / that it is expensive, / i.e. not cost-effective, /and that it is not selective enough. / There is also much talk of / “student tourism”, / with many supposed cases of students / not attending the required number of / course hours and dedicating their time / to travelling around the host country, / as it is difficult to hold them / to account for their studies abroad. /

As a first step in the review process, / the Commission has decided to set up / multidisciplinary working groups in /each member state – / with a maximum of 5 members in each / and including at least one student and one teacher - / to analyse the situation at a local level / and to put forward recommendations.

Roles[edit source]

Role 1[edit source]

You are an ex-Erasmus student. Your experience was very positive and you are convinced that it should be extended to form part of every university course. You have exchanged views on the subject with other Erasmus students and many of you agree that it should even be repeated on each course, with stays at more than one university, so that students, apart from benefiting from the academic experience, have the opportunity to interact with other students at different stages of the degree course and in different countries. Your only criticism is the financial aspect of the programme. You also think that the participating universities should be obliged to provide student accommodation on campus.

Role 2[edit source]

You are a university teacher. Your university is a net receiver of foreign students and your view, based on empirical studies carried out by you and your colleagues, is that they add a much-needed universal perspective to the campus. One of your long-standing criticisms is that the university environment is inward-looking and just churns out degrees. With the input of foreign students – even with linguistic barriers - you have found all your students are more dynamic and participative. You would also like to see more teachers participating in the teacher-exchange programme. You favour giving a significantly higher number of credits to exchange students.

Role 3[edit source]

You are an official of the education ministry. Your minister is very critical of the Erasmus programme and would like to eliminate it as it requires too much paperwork at a time when your government has pledged to streamline the public administration. Your solution would be to pass it on to the autonomous communities which have now had university education devolved to them, and let each of them take on their own exchange programmes. Likewise, you rather like the idea proposed by an MEP that individual universities be responsible for running such programmes, thereby eliminating any need for your ministry to be involved.

Role 4[edit source]

You are on the faculty of the MBA programme at a private university. Your experience of the private sector tells you that private enterprise is more than willing to fund student exchange programmes, and will do so with greater efficiency than government-sponsored initiatives. You already have a long list of multinational and transnational companies which have shown interest in joining a project which they consider will give them a competitive edge, not least as a marketing strategy. Among some of the more obvious advantages are those of networking on a Europe-wide basis, which for the moment, is the domain of the schools offering international MBAs.

Role 5[edit source]

You are an expert on higher education. Your criticism of Erasmus is that it is too timid in its outlook, and does not go far enough in promoting exchange of students, teachers and research fellows. The short- and long-term benefits to all those involved are only too obvious. If the benchmarks of a good university are enrolment figures and academic/research results, a competitive edge would be to offer courses with an Erasmus-based syllabus. You propose that each degree include at least two stays at different universities, plus that the university in the country of origin should provide specific language courses based on the course to be studied by the students abroad.

See also[edit source]