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Malaga province has been welcoming international students with open arms

Feb 20, 2017
While in Britain numbers of foreign students have plummeted since the Brexit Referendum in June 2016, Malaga province has been welcoming international students with open arms. Now the ever-popular Erasmus programme is to be widened and one of Malaga's schools of secondary and further  education, Santa Bárbara School, is taking part in the “Erasmus+” programme.

The school has been taking part in the Erasmus programme for a decade now, welcoming students from many different EU countries. This year students from Finland, Latvia and Germany have settled into their Erasmus time with gusto in sunny Malaga, but the theme of their courses is not tourism or the hospitality sector as one might have expected from such a host city – its the healthcare courses that have lured foreign students to southern Spain. 

International Week began with a big welcome to all participating student by Principal Antonio Archidona. The Erasmus+ programme enables students from all over Europe to undertake trainee work placements in Malaga, a process that usually takes between one to three months and takes place in various hospitals and laboratories across Malaga province. The event was also attended by representatives of Santa Bárbara's institutional and hospital partners from abroad. 

Arguably the most important persons present at the event were, however, Head of Education in Malaga Province, Patricia Alva Luque, and Eugenio Rodríguez, a representative from Malaga city council.

Principal Antonio Archidona praised the Erasmus+ programme in his opening speech. The programme was introduced some 30 years ago, as a means “which has helped the institute establish links all over Europe and (it) has allowed students to have different experiences thanks to the free movement of people”. 

This not so subtle hint at the problems the United Kingdom will face when it drops out of the EU in 2019 did not go unnoticed with the foreign students present at the event. 

German students like Josephine Kater, Laura Leone and Nadine Kattre were looking forward to their placements in Malaga – and did not have to worry over Brexit-induced abuse or even xenophobia-related violence, something that is currently troubling many parts of Britain. 

Celebrating its tenth anniversary of Erasmus+ programme participation this year, Santa Bárbara will  be the anchor point for these young students from Finland, Latvia and Germany. Laura Leone is one of three students to come to Malaga from Hanover Medical School in northern Germany. She is training to become a biomedical scientist and, like her fellow students, will be in Malaga for a month's work placement. She regards this opportunity as a great way “to build international contacts and to learn something about new countries”. 

Far from being “citizens of nowhere”, as British Prime Minister Theresa May referred to EU migrants and students in a derogative way, these young Europeans know quite well where their roots are, but want to expand, not close, their minds to new cultures and experiences. The Erasmus+ programme was designed to encourage just this way of thinking BIG, not SMALL.

Spanish masters student Rocío Hernández Ríos spent two months at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre. She pointed out how important the scheme is in understanding what differences there are within a given sector across the world.

“You learn what your job is like in other countries, how it works and the way it is organised. This allows you to compare it to the system in your home country and take and use the bits from your experience that seem useful and discard the ideas that do not work for you,” Rocio explained. 

The result of understanding differences in sectors across the globe is that improvements are made more rapidly within a sector as a whole, which in the healthcare industry is after all in everybody's interest. Even in the interest of Little Britain!

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