gms | German Medical Science

The structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?
International Conference hosted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

10 - 11 October 2008, Berlin

International student exchange programmes - Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Florence (2): Mobility Secretariat


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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Giulia Iannone - University of Florence, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Dipartimento di Parmacologia, Erasmus and International Mobility Office, Florence, Italy
  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Susan Rosselli - University of Florence, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Dipartimento di Parmacologia, Erasmus and International Mobility Office, Florence, Italy

The Structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?. International Conference hosted by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). Berlin, 10.-11.10.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc08hrk20

doi: 10.3205/08hrk20, urn:nbn:de:0183-08hrk203

Veröffentlicht: 13. Januar 2011

© 2011 Iannone et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Introduction: The process of internationalization of Italian universities should be considered as a strategic objective to pursue, in agreement with the Bologna Declaration and the orientation of the European Union. To this aim, universities need to make the didactic programmes offered to foreign students as attractive as possible, with stimulating research models based on networks where reciprocal exchanges between partners from different countries are encouraged.

Mobility: Supporting the mobility of Italian students towards foreign institutions and implementing adequate measures of welcoming foreign students at the University of Florence, through the Erasmus Life-Long Learning Programme and other programmes, represents a priority, particularly in view of the opportunity for amelioration of language skills and increased opportunities in the job market.

International student exchanges necessarily require a real ‘contract’ to sign by the student, the home, and host institution, containing both the economical and didactic terms. The didactic part of the contract consists in a detailed study plan on a specific form known as ‘Learning Agreement’, in which the student lists courses and clinical rotations planned for attendance according to those offered by the host institution. The Learning Agreement is submitted for approval to the Didactic Committee for International Mobility and then forwarded to the host institution for approval also. When fully approved by all parties, the Learning Agreement becomes a contract binding the student, the host, and the home institution, to its content. Once abroad, students may, within certain dates, propose changes in terms of cancellations or additions to their original Learning Agreement, using the official ‘Changes to Learning Agreement’ form, which again requires the approval of all three parties.

In the field of medicine, owing to a great diversity of

host institutions located in many different cultural settings,
differing periods of study abroad (from 3 to 12 months),
the study plans offered and (4) the individual’s didactic requirements, the Learning Agreement has to be ‘tailor-made’ for each student.

The whole process of preparing a Learning Agreement acceptable by all three parties requires a continuous interaction between the student, the Didactic Committee and the International Mobility Secretariat, which in Florence is the central driving force of the whole system. Two staff members operate with great competency to support students in this complex procedure, offering information, advice, and orientation throughout the entire mobility, from the moment of application until the student’s return with the ‘Transcript of Records’ obtained.

The International Mobility Secretariat: The secretariat operates with two full time staff members, 5 days a week. It is open to the public 4 hours, 4 mornings a week, and by appointment also. In peak periods, it provides over 120 front office consultations per week. Both staff members have a long-standing experience in this office and are highly motivated. Optimal relations with students are established through listening, encouragement, and good will. Alongside the invaluable and untiring professional attention provided by dedicated members of the teaching staff, the secretariat has surely contributed to the steady increase in recent years in the number of student exchanges with excellent feedback. All this is achieved, despite being short-staffed for processing applications for the various programmes and handling over 300 incoming and outgoing students whose numbers actually increases each year, with scarce online facilities and inadequate financing.

Over 150 medical students and 40 teaching staff visit the faculty yearly, would you like to come too? Our goals, strengths, but weakness too may convince you:

Goals: Goals of the Medical Faculty of Florence are the expansion of exchanges for medical students and teaching staff in the European Union and overseas; to make incoming students and staff welcome to the faculty, and offer them advice and support, optimizing social and academic integration.

Strengths: Long-term experience and motivation, optimal relations through understanding, encouragement, and good will, and steady increase in exchanges and excellent feedback.

Weaknesses: Under-staffed conditions, inadequate financing, and scarce online facilities.

Conclusions: The International Mobility Secretariat is a driving force of the Medical Faculty of Florence and operates with competence. It supports students throughout the entire procedure of their exchange adventure.