Erasmus Policy Statement

International (EU & non- EU) Strategy of the Hellenic Open University

The Hellenic Open University is the 19th public university in Greece. It was founded in 1992 and begun its educational activity in 2000. It is the only distance teaching University in Greece. After only 14 years of operation, it has become the second largest University in Greece offering 6 first cycle courses, 26 second cycle courses and third cycle studies. Its mission is to provide distance education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and to achieve and sustain excellence, in particular in the area of distance teaching as well as research and innovation.

The HOU has an internationalization strategy aiming to acquire and exchange knowledge, experience and culture through international cooperation that offers strong feedback and can be effectively used by the University to achieve and sustain a solid presence in the competitive international educational environment. To this end, the HOU encourages Schools to build solid collaborations with European and other universities in order to promote mobility, technological development, modernization of studies- curricula and educational methodology. The University capitalizes on experience gained by integrating new methods of teaching, reforming curricula, expanding and modernizing learning tools. The University also capitalizes on exchange of experience with regard to expertise, administration methods, financial management and the learning environment offered to students. International cooperation offers strong motivation to achieve and sustain excellence.

The HOU has a continuous and growing activity in Erasmus Mobility & international cooperation projects (either as coordinator or as partner) such as Multilateral Projects, Grundtvig, Leonardo da Vinci (LdV) and Preparatory Visits (PVs). Through PVs, in particular, the teaching staff has the opportunity to acquire a rounder view and knowledge of possible future collaborations. The HOU also has an active - and growing - participation in Erasmus IPs, since 2008.

The HOU aims to establish cooperation with foreign institutions based on the level and methodology of studies, the fields of education and specific contents of curricula in respect to the structure of home courses and curricula. Being a Mediterranean Institution, the HOU aims to establish cooperation with southern European institutions and the Mediterranean area - without excluding other EHEA or non EU countries.

As far as student and staff mobility are concerned, and despite the fact that the HOU is a distance education institution, our University invests highly on the Erasmus Mobility programme. Participation of outgoing students for studies is steadily increasing - demonstrating HOU students' strong interest to take part in an international experience so enriching for themselves and their peers. Full recognition of studies is a very strong priority for our University and to this end students receive all possible assistance from the Coordinators and the Erasmus Office. All participating students have received, to date, full recognition of their Erasmus mobility period and transfer of ECTS obtained. Furthermore, even though HOU students normally would have to pay for their studies, when participating in the Erasmus Mobility Programme they are fully exempted from fees (for the course modules they successfully complete at the host university). This measure offers strong motivation for students to apply to the Programme. Incoming postgraduate students are more than welcome to conduct part of their postgraduate or doctoral research at our University (free of charge). Staff mobility is also increasing, both for teaching and training. Students benefit a great deal from the input and experience of returning teaching staff as well as incoming teaching staff.

Charts indicating the University's participation in ERASMUS (2007- 2013) mobility are available here.

In order to guarantee the highest quality in the organization of staff and student mobility, the University has implemented and maintains a Management System which fulfills the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 standard - concerning all relevant procedures including information and briefing, selection, support and recognition procedures. Regarding outgoing student and staff selection procedures, measures have been taken to guarantee parity in gender and to promote participation of students with disabilities. Selection is based on transparent and objective criteria that guarantee impartiality, equity and no discrimination whatsoever regarding race, religion or social background. All selection criteria are published on the Erasmus webpage.

The HOU has thoroughly adopted the ECTS system and offers the DS to its graduates. Learning outcomes have been developed for each course module. They are available on the webpage of each course (as well as in the Course Catalogue). Courses' general descriptions, study guides, educational material and learning outcomes are reviewed annually by the Course Director, the Module Coordinators and the Tutors.

Strategy for the Organization & Implementation of International (EU & non- EU) Cooperation Projects in Teaching/ Training

The HOU has begun implementing joint degrees, in particular with Belgium and Poland, with a view to attracting international students (who will acquire mixed educational experience) and offering staff the opportunity to experience teaching in an international environment, as well as work closely with foreign institutions - thus shaping the conditions for additional, future cooperation.

Starting with two of its courses (the EADTU recognized MBA and the Computer Science course) the HOU plans to organize and implement new joint master's degrees and, to that extent, is already in discussions with three universities in Cyprus.

In the spirit of attracting additional international cooperation, the HOU has translated some of its educational material (Greek Civilization Studies & Orthodox Theology) in English - aspiring to have greater appeal for Greeks abroad and/ or transfer core knowledge of Greek philosophy and civilization to international students. 

Impact of ERASMUS Participation on the Modernization of the Hellenic Open University

In its 14 years in Greek HE, the HOU has produced over 9.311 BA graduates, 15.232 MA graduates & 36 PhD holders.

Being a distance education institution & counting a significant number of international students (from participating/ non-participating countries), the HOU is committed to contributing to the increase of productivity - by giving adult, working students the opportunity to acquire a degree/ postgraduate specialization & to participate in a multi- beneficial, international experience via the LLP.

Through LdV & the EIF the HOU has promoted & aims to keep contributing to the social inclusion of immigrants (see TIPS, SONETOR).

In addition to conventional meetings the HOU has established a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), designed to meet the requirements of distance learners/ tutors who chose their study pace depending on family/ work commitments. E-Learning activities are realized in accordance with ISO 9001:2008. Based on ICT, the VLE enables greater cooperation with international institutions & sets the grounds for knowledge transfer.

Via its involvement in LLP Multilateral Projects, the HOU has had the opportunity to present its quality mechanism & Internal Assessment Unit (, aimed at improving the quality/ relevance of HE. Its MBA program was assessed by E-xcellence benchmarks & has received the homonymous label. Via ERASMUS Virtual Campuses the HOU teamed up with a Consortium of 11 European partners to extend Open Educational Resources (OER) achievements & worked on OER strategies in lifelong, open learning for better exploiting the potential of ICTs to enable more effective/ personalized learning.

Foreign study & ECTS credit recognition is a core strategy of the HOU internationalization policy. Fully aware of the importance of an international experience, the HOU offers all possible support/ recognition to participating students/ staff. In future, it aims to participate more actively in the LLP, by offering students opportunities for traineeships (most beneficial in the competitive/ demanding EU working environment). Moreover, since such cooperation constitutes a core strategic aim, the HOU intends to further explore the possibility of more joint degrees with European partners.

As regards linking HE, research and business for excellence/ regional development, the HOU has (via the LLP Multilateral Projects) been involved in the organization of a transparent & sustainable university- market interface & the valorization of educational innovation, powered by commercial & Open Educational Resources.

With a Management System that fulfills the ISO 9001:2008 standard, the HOU has raised funds from European/ National sources (mainly used to improve infrastructure/ the VLE, reform the curricula). It has also received a Fund Managing Competence Quality Assurance Certification, by the Greek Ministry of Education & continuously funds its staff to train in ICT.