Many students in Switzerland go for student exchange abroad, even on other continents such as North America, Asia and Australia. Does such student mobility increase European or even global identities among these students? A recent study at the University of Lucerne entitled "Becoming more European or Global after Student Mobility?" shows that student mobility is associated with diverse patterns of supranational identities depending on whether the destination country was situated within Europe or outside of Europe. These results are based on an online survey among more than 2000 students in 22 Swiss higher education institutions.
The results show that within Europe, student mobility further promotes European identities, while outside of Europe, student mobility promotes global identities. Furthermore, the length of residence abroad and language competences are important: respondents more frequently report new attitudes towards Europe the longer they stay abroad and those who are able to speak several foreign languages fluently are more likely to become attached to a global environment.
For Switzerland, the main political relevance of these results concerns the importance of the Erasmus exchange programme. This study underlines the strategic importance of European mobility for promotion of European identity. While Erasmus programme was launched on the basis of both political and economic motives, it also helps to promote a sense of "European-ness" among the young generation.
This project was coordinated by Karina Oborune, a PhD candidate in Political Science from the University of Latvia and a Sciex Fellow of the Scientific Exchange Programme SCIEX at the University of Lucerne under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Schlenker, Senior Researcher and Lecturer at the Chair of Political Theory.
Karina Oborune, Project Coordinator, karina.oborune @ unilu.ch