The Conservatory of Milan, founded 1807, with over 1700 students, 234 teachers and more than 100 study programs is one of the most important institutions for the study of music, with national and international prominence.
The strategic plan for internationalization aims to place the Milan Conservatory among the reference institutions for Higher Music Education at European and world level, strengthening its network of contacts, exchanges and collaborations with the major institutions of the sector.
For this reason, the Milan Conservatory intends to join the Erasmus + program, and in particular to take part to the Key Action 1 and Key Action 2, with following objectives:
In the context of Key Action 1:
- increase mobility of students and teachers, both incoming and outgoing, of 25% in the next seven years;
- enhance quality and flexibility of the education offer, thanks to the exchange of experiences between teachers and the comparison between different methodologies and educational systems;
- joint productions with Italian and foreign teachers and student.
In the context of Key Action 2:
- consolidation of the expertise already gained in the management of strategic partnerships projects during the previous edition of the program;
- internationalization of the curriculum;
- development and enhancement of online teaching and blended learning;
- making good use of distance learning and smart working good practices, as far as the administrative offices are concerned, in order to create virtual networks between institutions from different countries;
- improvement and rationalization of administrative management, facilities and student services, with particular attention to the transparency and fairness of credit recognition procedures, guarantees of equal opportunities and inclusion, and support for disadvantaged students;
- strengthening and extending the network of agreements beyond European borders, with particular attention to Far East Countries.
The primary goal of the Milan Conservatory, as defined in its “mission”, is to train instrumentalists and composers by developing the potential of each student, in the belief that art – and mainly music – represents the top of human thought and the main tool for the growth of individuals and society.
The Milan Conservatory is one of the most important institutions for the study of music, renowned at national and international level, with more than 1,700 students enrolled, 234 teachers, 25 adjunct professors and more than 100 study programs between I level and II level, master of I and II level, workshops, master classes and seminars with internationally renowned teachers.
The internationalization and modernization strategy of the Milan Conservatory aims to strengthen the position of the Institute in the context of the most representative Higher Music Education institutions at European and world level.
The four pillars of this strategy are based on international cooperation, on the development of distance learning, on digitization and on constant implementation of monitoring and improving the training offer.
The development of internationalization processes is articulated 1) on the development of curricula of excellence and the implementation of measures and actions that meet the needs of a society and, in particular, of a musical entrepreneurship, based on communication, on the circulation of knowledge and on international mobility, 2) on the development of a “global education” which includes the activation of bilingual and intercultural education through strategies and activities based on comparison, dialogue and civil coexistence and 3) on the enhancement of cultural dialogue and diversity as an enrichment of the Institute’s own identity, in the sign of a pluralism and multiculturalism which constitute the foundation of the European identity.
The Milan Conservatory has a very clear vision of the convergence and synergy between these goals and those of the Erasmus program. Ever since, in fact, the Italian Higher Music Education system gained access, the Erasmus program has always represented the most effective tool in the global strategy of internationalization, offering students and teachers the possibility of relatively easy and immediate access to contacts and exchanges with colleagues, teachers and artists from all over the world.
The Erasmus program will contribute in various ways to the goals of the Institute’s internationalization plan through 1) the consolidation of the experiences of strategic partnership with most outstanding institutions already gained in the previous edition, such as, for example, the Interactive Environment for Music Learning and Practising project (INTERMUSIC 2017-1-IT02-KA203-036770), 2) the exchange of good practices, both in the didactic and administrative / management fields 3) the internationalization of curricula 4) the strengthening and further extension of the network of international cooperation agreements beyond European borders towards Far Eastern Countries.
In particular, the Erasmus program will be able to support more specific targets of the internationalization strategy such as excellence in training, research and production through international cooperation; the development of the so-called third mission, through cultural, social and knowledge dissemination activities and events (joint productions, concerts, etc.); monitoring and quality assurance, through the adoption of programs adhering to the best international offers; the development of transnational courses also through the enhancement of online teaching and blended learning.
In this way, the Erasmus program will be able to contribute significantly to the increase in attractiveness and visibility of the Milan Conservatoire and to its strengthening as a reference institution.
In the next program years, the Milan Conservatory plans to continue taking part in Key Action 1 and to continue the experience already gained in the context of Key Action 2, with reference to strategic partnerships, as well as to other actions.
Key Action 1
The mobility of students and teachers has always been a strength of the Milan Conservatory, thanks also to its extensive network of contacts. The Milan Conservatory has always dedicated many resources to developing this action and monitoring quality. This attention resulted concretely into an always positive and constantly increasing trend with reference to the number of participants and the budget allocations from the Erasmus Italian National Agency.
This action will continue with renewed attention focused on the quality of mobility and its relevance. Specifically, we will try to adopt coherent measures to achieve the strategic objective of a greater impact on professional and educational outputs and to promote mobility in those departments that, so far, have implemented it to a lesser extent. Particular attention will also be paid to inclusion policies, with particular reference to Special Educational Needs, through close collaboration with all the institutional bodies involved and also taking into consideration the opportunities offered by the program in the field of virtual mobility.
Inclusion in the mobility action will also concern the administrative staff. Specific measures and targeted proposals for training mobilities will be adopted, in the belief that in the global process of internationalization this category plays a role of fundamental importance at different levels.
In recent years, moreover, the Milan Conservatory has paid a lot of attention to the promotion of traineeships for students, recording all experiences and constantly monitoring, during the mobility, the results in terms of impact on professional development. In this sector too, the intention is to continue the experience, expanding the offer, increasing the numbers of both incoming and outgoing trainees and selecting projects with high quality standards, in line with the development of the student’s curriculum.
Finally, looking beyond European borders, the Institute’s internationalization plan for the next seven years envisages further expansion and strengthening of cooperation with countries such as China, Korea, the United States and Japan. The Conservatory of Milan has already signed memorandum of understanding with some institutions located in these geographical areas. To achieve this goal, the Erasmus program is of paramount importance and plays a strategic role as it can act as a powerful flywheel to give a vigorous impulse to the development of these cooperations, hitherto limited mainly for economic reasons.
Key Action 2
Within the Erasmus program, the Milan Conservatory has already gained significant expertise as the leader of a strategic partnership project. The INTERMUSIC project (2017-1-IT02-KA203-036770), dedicated to distance learning, research and network music performance, has proved to be of fundamental importance, also in light of recent events related to the health emergency, in the internationalization and modernization policy of the institute and has had a great impact on the digitization and development of transnational teachings with high quality standards.
The Milan Conservatory has clearly identified virtual learning as one of the priorities for the development of the curriculum and the improvement of the educational offer and is committed, for the future, to making an investment of human and financial resources for the sustainability of this experience, with the aim of exploiting all its propaedeutic potential towards a possible development and expansion into partnerships of excellence.
Based on the experience of past years, we are firmly convinced that the Erasmus program will continue to have a strong impact, not only on the internationalization of the modernization of the Milan Conservatory, but also up to the most peripheral levels of the Institute’s life. Below is a brief summary of some aspects that may be affected with a decisive impact.
Many students choose to enroll in the Milan Conservatory by virtue of the many possibilities it offers regarding mobility. The Milan Conservatory, in fact, is the Italian Higher Music Education Institute with the largest number of interinstitutional agreements signed with the most prestigious European Institutions and several Extra-European Institutions. Over 90% of the mobility takes place through the Erasmus program, which therefore plays a strategic role. At the same time, the attraction towards students who choose the Milan Conservatory as a destination for a study period has also increased. The impact of the Erasmus program has shown a progressive expansion of interest of the foreign students in almost all the musical disciplines taught, with a considerable improvement in the image of the Milan Conservatory as a center of excellence in a plurality of disciplines.
As a goal we aim to achieve, compared to the current average, a 25% global increase in student and staff mobility flows within the first two years of the new program. Besides the quantitative indicators that will be able to provide hints on the interest in general for the program (number of participants in the information meetings and overall number of applications), qualitative indicators such as the level of satisfaction, the increase in employability (in particular for traineeships), the level of social integration and active participation in the life of the Institute will be systematically monitored and taken into account.
Improvement of the Educational offer
The repercussions of international mobility through the Erasmus program of both teachers and students, will continue to lead, in general, to an improvement of the educational offer based, on the one hand, on the need to develop alternative paths, more flexible and responsive to the needs of the individual student hosted for a short period; on the other on improving the skills of teachers involved in a mobility thanks to the confrontation with foreign colleagues and the aspects of different educational systems.
The aim is to further enrich the offer by launching courses in English for foreign students and to enhance distance learning through the use of new technologies, on the basis of the expertise already gained through Key Action 2. In this case, attention to qualitative indicators will prevail over quantitative indicators.
The study plans of the Conservatory of Milan, consistently with the objectives of internationalization, already include learning a second EU language and promote linguistic diversity. The goal, through the Erasmus program, is to encourage the learning of a third language, especially in cases where mobility takes place in countries whose language is not included in the official EU languages. The Online Linguistic Support platform (OLS) will also assist in monitoring the students’ online training so that it is completed as quickly as possible, and in any case before departure, preferably.
Management of processes
The experience gained in the context of strategic partnerships as a leader institution, has given a strong boost to the improvement and rationalization of the management of complex processes by requiring the elaboration and subsequent adoption of detailed plans for all administrative procedures on different sides, financial management, risk analysis, decision and communication strategies, student administration etc.
The confrontation and the exchange of good practices with excellent partners such as the Royal Danish Music Academy and the Lithuanian National Academy of Music, with whom we intend to continue a privileged relationship in constant dialogue, proved to be precious. The experience accumulated both by the administrative staff and by the teachers’ working groups, will be essential in order to be able to take part in future projects of Key Action 2.
Improvement of student facilities and services
The need to respond to the specific needs of Erasmus students both from a logistical point of view (availability of study spaces, search for accommodation, etc.) and from that of communication of information (procedures, regulations, etc.) involved all the institutional bodies, primarily the International Relations Office, in the effort of a continuous amelioration which proved to be highly beneficial and effectual for the entire student community.
The goal for the next years is to identify and take appropriate measures to support foreign students in the search for accommodation, a real priority in a city like Milan. A second objective is to further facilitate access to vital information (course catalogue, list of curriculum and teachers, class schedule, course and examination programs). The main indicator that will be constantly monitored will be the level of satisfaction of visiting students.
The Milan Conservatory has always been committed to ensuring the transparency and fairness of all the procedures for recognizing the credits accumulated during a mobility for study or traineeship. The Erasmus model has also been successfully adopted in protocols with partner institutions that are not part of the program.
The recommendations of the new program based on the automatic recognition of the credit recognition mechanism will contribute to further streamlining the process up to making it a simple administrative act. The indicators that will be taken into account in the monitoring will be the level of student satisfaction and the number of days between the delivery of the final certificate and the official registration of credits.