The EGiA focus group was organised in order to challenge and analyse the knowledge of the Polish youth regarding the mobility opportunities available for them as well as their awareness about their rights as EU citizens. The data were collected from the mobile and non-mobile students.
The focus group commenced by kicking off with integration activities, a name game, and a brief introduction of ESN (Erasmus Student Network). During this introduction, participants gained insights into ESN's identity and its initiatives to support Erasmus students at the University.
Following this, the conversation turned toward various forms of student mobility. Notably, the Erasmus program, including Erasmus+ internships, emerged as the most familiar mobility option among students. However, many participants were unaware that it's possible to volunteer abroad for free in another country. This discovery led to an engaging discussion, with a group of architecture faculty students posing numerous questions to an active member of ESN UEK, who had a friend that had experienced mobility in Sevilla. For most students, the destination was a primary and influential factor in their mobility decisions.
The discussion then shifted to European citizens' rights. Focus group participants were aware of their right to vote in European elections and the existence of the European Parliament, but they lacked clarity on the specifics of how and when to exercise this right. The primary topic of discussion revolved around the GDPR as well as Schengen and EKUZ.
Regarding barriers to mobility, the initial concern raised was financial constraints. Participants stressed that money not only enables mobility experiences but also provides a safety net in case of unexpected situations. Subsequently, language barriers were brought up as a significant challenge, emphasizing the difficulties of navigating a foreign country without proficiency in the local language.
Each participant was provided with post-it notes to jot down their thoughts on the impact of mobility programs. After two minutes, these notes were shared aloud. The most commonly mentioned effect was the positive influence of mobility on job opportunities. In some instances, participants believed that Erasmus could enhance their language skills. Additionally, the group recognized the significant improvement in soft skills, such as communication, during an Erasmus experience.
The entire group reached a consensus on the significance of opportunities like Erasmus. The ensuing discussion explored its roles, including fostering cross-cultural understanding as an integral component of effective engagement within the European Union. Participants also acknowledged the role of Erasmus in building stronger relationships between countries and universities, which could lead to potential collaborations. Beyond the educational aspect, Erasmus provided young individuals with the opportunity to establish connections with other European Union residents, offering insights into cultural diversity and potential future job prospects.
Finally, the participants discussed the topic of future European elections. They collectively agreed that improved access to information regarding such elections would be the primary motivator for their participation in the electoral process.