Set of Guiding criteria

Part Three: set of guiding criteria (matrix)

 “Learning is discovering that something is possible”

(Fritz Perls)


3.1 Building up the matrix 

The LEMONOC Matrix presents a set of guiding criteria describing elements of good practices for HEIs involved in facilitating North-to-South learning mobility. Ultimately the goal is to ensure quality learning mobility that benefits all stakeholders: the participants in learning mobility programmes, sending and receiving partners and, where appropriate, local communities in the Global South.

It is important to note that the input and views from experts from both the Global North and the Global South have been considered all throughout the process so that criteria reflect a balance of interest and opinions, as well as a consensus among different stakeholders.

 It’s important to notice the set of guiding criteria could be used as reflection tools. In learning mobility programmes there is a lot of diversity therefore it is important to stress that each stakeholder has to use the LEMONOC criteria, based on the context they work in.

The LEMONOC matrix features a set of guiding criteria which are the product of a two-year long process of research, consultation with learning mobility practitioners and collaboration between professionals and experts from various countries in Europe and in the world. In this section we outline the process of research.


3.1.1 Distributing and analysing questionnaires

The LEMONOC researchers started in November 2013 with the design of a questionnaire. The questionnaires have been distributed to three target groups: HEI’s from the Global North, HEI’s from the Global South and organisations (non HEI’s) involved in international mobility to the Global South.

The objectives of the questionnaire were: (i) to identify what current practices in North-South learning mobility are during the different phases and activities, (ii) to gather insights, critical success factors and opinions about practices, (iii) to gather relevant materials.

The questionnaire focused on 5 time related phases:

  • Partnership building
  • Recruitment
  • Preparation
  • Support during stay abroad
  • Reflection and post-assignment support

 You can find the results of the questionnaires on our website (integrate LINK to the online manual).

 The questionnaire was a starting point to develop the set of guiding criteria and the LEMONOC tools. Simultaneous the literature review was conducted and lead to more criteria and the final version of the matrix of criteria


3.1.2 Carrying out a literature review

The literature targeted academic literature as well as existing guidelines and tools. It aimed at: (i) identifying current practices in North-South learning mobility, (ii) gathering good practice recommendations, (iii) identifying resources to populate the LEMONOC Resource Centre. The search methodology for this literature review was firstly based on a systematic review approach[1]. The systematic review approach only generated a limited amount of relevant documents. In order to increase the number of relevant results, a more ad hoc approach was adopted, mainly based on the screening of selected references cited in relevant documents. The search yielded 2574 documents. Out of them, a total of 82 documents were eventually selected as being the most relevant for this literature review and the annotated bibliography.

 Key Questions on North-South learning mobility

A number of key questions around the topic of learning mobility to the Global South were raised by the literature review, and during the various work sessions and seminars(organised for the LEMONOC project). These questions point out some on-going debates among practitioners, they also highlight some possible developments for the LEMONOC project.

  • What makes learning mobility to the Global South distinct from international learning mobility to other destinations? What is the rationale behind creating such a distinction?
  • Should any planned increase of North-to-South mobility be accompanied by a review of the capacities of the receiving partners in order to avoid creating a potential burden for them?
  • How can reciprocity be achieved when there is an important imbalance between outgoing and incoming flows of participants between North and South?
  • Is the focus on development education in participants’ preparation relevant for all programmes or is it just relevant for certain type of programmes?


3.1.3 Gathering Feedback from practitioners

From November 2014 until June 2015, the matrix was presented to different groups of North-South mobility practitioners. The matrix and criteria were discussed among LEMONOC partners during various group sessions (meetings, seminars, and training sessions). Feedback was also gathered from the LEMONOC partner’s respective networks including the African Network of Internationalisation of Education (ANIE), Coimbra Group, and Association of Universities Grupo Montevideo (AUGM).

Finaly, the set of guiding criteria was  discussed during LEMONOC seminars in Maastricht and Dublin.

A final list of criteria was adopted in July 2015, however it is important to note that the LEMONOC consortium is committed to review the criteria in the future in order to adapt them to the changes and trends within the international learning mobility sector.  


Figure 1: LEMONOC’s process of research


3.2 Structure of the set of guiding criteria

The criteria are distributed across five time-related stages which follow the stages of implementation of an international learning mobility programme, from planning the programme to after the return phase. In addition, three main cross-cutting themes have been identified by the LEMONOC partners as being essential for achieving quality in international learning mobility: Partnership Process, Participant Learning Process and Organisational Process. The emphasis on these three themes combined with the five time-related stages constitutes an innovative and distinctive analytical framework through which learning mobility programmes can be reviewed and improved. This structure establishes a framework for the good practice criteria and a foundation for the LEMONOC Scan, as each of the scan self-assessment questions originate from one criterion.

         Figure 2: Structure of the guiding criteria


The good practice criteria have been developed to support HEIs to refine their work practices, develop their educational and organisational policies on learning mobility, and improve their programmes through self-assessment and continuous analysis.The criteria are designed to fit a wide range of HEI programmes including internships, work placements, research programmes (e.g. field research, PhD research), service learning and international volunteering programmes. They are applicable to short-term programmes, semester or longer programmes, summer programmes, programmes organised by sending HEI’s themselves, by a partner organisation or by a private service provider. Those in charge of reviewing programmes will find that, due to the existing diversity of institutional environments, approaches and programme types, some of the criteria will inevitably be more relevant and applicable than others. It is therefore essential for the criteria to be applied in a manner that is appropriate to the context and culture of each individual institution, and that those who are reviewing the programme take into account the nature and complexity of each individual programme.

 It is important to point out that the criteria have been developed to suit a North-to-South Learning mobility context involving Northern participants, Northern HEI’s and host partner(s) in the Global South. If the Matrix were applied to other contexts (e.g. South-to-North mobility, non-HEI sender etc.) considerations related to these specific context should be taken into account in order to adjust the matrix and criteria accordingly.

The following sections aim at providing further information regarding the considerations and discussions which have led to the formulation of the criteria. This background information is presented following the three main themes of the Matrix.


3.2.1 Partnership Process Criteria

In the literature reviewed, North-South partnerships for learning mobility are often described as being characterised by a range of asymmetries between the two partners for example in resources, institutional capacity and power, with the partner controlling finances often determining the terms of the partnership (Bailey and Dolan, 2011). These issues of power, domination and inequalities in North-South partnerships were frequently mentioned in the literature reviewed (Epprecht and Tiessen, 2012), (Bailey and Dolan, 2011), (Provenzano, Graber et al. 2010), (Sherraden et al., 2013), (Binka, 2005). In an effort to break with this historical legacy of imbalance and inequity, a number of academics from the North and the South advocate for building high quality partnerships on a foundation of mutual respect, reciprocity, equity, and transparency (David Wiley, 2003) (KFPE, 2012). The criteria developed by the LEMONOC project have been strongly influenced by these recommendations. In addition, research conducted by Bracke (2007) pointed out the need for a deeper and more continuous involvement from the Southern partner throughout the learning mobility programme. Following this recommendation it was decided to indicate for each criteria who should be responsible for implementing it. For this purpose, ‘sender’, ‘receiver’ or ‘sender and receiver’ have been allocated to each criteria. Thereby, the matrix suggests how both sending and receiving partners can have a more continuous role throughout the mobility programme.  

 Furthermore, it is important to note that the criteria have been inspired by existing guidelines and principles of good practice such as: the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad (The Forum on Education Abroad, 2015), the Guide for Transboundary Research Partnership – 11 principles (Swiss Commission for Research Partnership with Developing Countries (KFPE, 2012) and the Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies (Comhlámh, 2012). For example, the importance of accountability to the local communities are both emphasised in the KFPE’s guide and the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice.

 The criteria have also been inspired by HEI staff members consulted throughout the process. For example, several Southern partners involved in the LEMONOC project mentioned that Northern HEIs should involve Southern HEIs in their mobility programmes in order to further benefit students, academics and communities in the Global South.

The following points present the main aspirations which arose from the literature review and consultation process and around which the criteria have been built:

  • Partnerships should be mutually beneficial.
  • Objectives should be developed jointly by Northern and Southern partners.
  • Southern partner’s involvement should be deeper and more continuous throughout the mobility process.
  • Accountability mechanisms responsive to funders and beneficiaries should be implemented.
  • Potential negative impact on receiving partner and community should be considered.
  • Southern HEI’s should be involved in partnerships whenever possible.


3.2.2 Participant Learning Process

The criteria related to Participant Learning were mainly inspired by two sources: the academic literature on learning mobility to the Global South and the existing guidelines and principles developed for ‘Study Abroad’ professionals.

 Among the existing guidelines for professionals from the ‘Study Abroad’ field, the following objectives emerged as being relevant to the context of developing good practice for learning mobility to the Global South: 

  • Learning objectives and outcomes should be defined.
  • Participants should be prepared for cultural adjustment.
  • General and guided reflection should be built into programmes.
  • Participants should be aware of their own responsibilities to acquire relevant knowledge and skills.

 The review of the literature on learning mobility to the Global South complemented with the input from LEMONOC consortium participants highlighted some specific issues relevant to the North-to-South mobility context. Several authors highlighted the fact that altruism motivations raise concern as they might reinforce inequalities and imbalanced power relations (Tiessen and Kumar, 2013, Rotabi et al., 2006, Woolf, 2006). In addition, a number of articles encourage HEI’s to prepare participants to think critically about the ethical dimension of their experience (Tiessen and Kumar, 2013) (Schroeder et al., 2009). According to these authors, participants should be encouraged to discuss sensitive topics such as work ethics and perceptions of power, evaluating and preventing negative impacts on host communities, sexual relationships, friendships, moral judgements on treatment of people and animals (Ibid). Furthermore, several articles mentioned the importance of integrating topics related to development and global justice issues within the preparation (Heron, 2005, Rotabi et al., 2006, Gammonley and Rotabi, 2007, Tiessen and Kumar, 2013, Tiessen, 2007, Epprecht and Tiessen, 2012). According to Epprecht and Tiessen, pre-departure and return orientations should enable participants to deconstruct inequality and their roles in perpetuating this inequality while using a pro-active education that can support and contribute to a form of global citizenship (Epprecht and Tiessen, 2012). It is important to notice while most of the literature suggests a structured approach to learning the input from Southern partners in defining the learning objectives of the mobility programmes is rarely discussed. Interestingly, some authors from the South highlight the risk for the participant to be locked into preconceived goals related to the requirements of the partner in the North and suggest developing a more unstructured approach to learning (Ouma and Dimaras, 2013).

 In summary, the review of the literature on North-to-South learning mobility combined with the input from LEMONOC consortium participants produced the following aspirations:

  • Participants should be encourage to critically reflect on their potential altruistic motivations.
  • Ethical consideration should be integrated in the learning process.
  • Development and global justice issues should be integrated in the learning process.
  • Where appropriate, an unstructured approach to learning should be considered.

 It is important to mention that most of the articles related to Participant Learning in the context of North-to-South mobility were related to the two specific study fields of International Development Studies, Social Work and Global Health. Therefore some of the criteria emerging from this process might not always be relevant to other fields of studies.


3.2.3 Organisational Process

The criteria developed around the Organisational Process theme, aim to support HEI’s to enhance their organisational and administrative structures and capacities in order to improve the quality of their learning mobility programme(s) to the Global South.

 Among the three themes, the Organisational Process is the one which required the largest number of criteria.  This theme  covers numerous issues such as administration, health and safety, policies and procedures, sender and receiver capacities etc. The criteria related to the Organisational Process does not aim to be fully exhaustive, LEMONOC aims to  identify the most common areas with potential for quality improvement.

 While the academic literature reviewed offered little input on these areas, a great deal of valuable information was gathered from the experience of the LEMONOC partners, and from relevant existing guidelines. For example, several LEMONOC partners, experienced in designing and implementing learning mobility programmes to the South, insisted on the importance to make participants aware of their own responsibilities while existing guidelines such as those developed by the Forum on Education Abroad (2015) emphasise the need for having various policies, procedures and guidelines in place.  The combinations of these two sources of information, completed by the contribution from a wider audience (through questionnaire and interview with HEIs) inspired the development of a set of criteria structured around the following aspirations:

 Participants should be made aware of their own responsibilities throughout the different phases of the mobility programme

  • Attention to health, safety and security should be ensured in program planning and management.
  • Relevant policies, procedures and guidelines should be developed.
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems should be designed and implemented.
  • Potential negative impact on receiving partner and community should be considered in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Sending and receiving partners should have sufficient capacities and appropriate competencies.
  • Programme should comply with ethical principles.
  • Programmes should comply with principles of inclusiveness and non-discrimination.



Bailey, F. and Dolan, A.M. (2011). The Meaning of Partnership in Development: Lessons from Development Education. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 13, 30-48.


Binka, F. (2005). Editorial: North–South research collaborations: a move towards a true partnership? Tropical Medicine & International Health, 10(3), 207-209.


Bracke, C. (2007). Onderzoek naar de omkadering voor Vlaamse jongeren die naar het Zuiden trekken - Research on the framework for Flemish young people who are sent to the South. Brussel: Platform Kleurrijk Vlaanderen.


Comhlamh (2012). Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies: 11 principles of good practice in volunteering for global development. Retrieved on 1 July 2015 on


Epprecht, M. & Tiessen, R. (2012). Introduction: Global citizenship education for learning/volunteering abroad. Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, 2 (1).


Gammonley, D. & Rotabi, K. S. (2007). Enhancing global understanding with study abroad: Ethically grounded approaches to international learning. Journal of teaching in social work, 27, 115-135.

Heron, B. (2005). Changes and challenges Preparing social work students for practicums in today's sub-Saharan African context. International Social Work, 48, 782-793.


Heron, B. (2005). Changes and challenges Preparing social work students for practicums in today's sub-Saharan African context. International Social Work, 48, 782-793.


KFPE. (2012) The Guide for Transboundary Research Partnership – 11 principles. Retrieved on 8 July 2015, on


Ouma, B. D. & Dimaras, H. (2013). Views from the global south: exploring how student volunteers from the global north can achieve sustainable impact in global health. Globalization and health, 9, 32.


Provenzano, A. M., Graber, L. K., Elansary, M., Khoshnood, K., Rastegar, A. & Barry, M. (2010). Short-term global health research projects by US medical students: ethical challenges for partnerships. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 83, 211.


Rotabi, K. S., Gammonley, D. & Gamble, D. N. (2006). Ethical guidelines for study abroad: Can we transform ugly Americans into engaged global citizens? British Journal of Social Work, 36, 451-465.


Schroeder, K., Wood, C., Galiardi, S. & Koehn, J. (2009). First, do no harm: Ideas for mitigating negative community impacts of short-term study abroad. Journal of Geography, 108, 141-147.


Sherraden, M., Bopp, A. & Lough, B. J. (2013). Students Serving Abroad: A Framework for Inquiry. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17, 7-42.


The Forum on Education Abroad. (2015). Standards of good practice for education abroad, 5th edition. Retrieved on 30 June 2015 on


Tiessen, R. & Kumar, P. (2013). Ethical challenges encountered on learning/volunteer abroad programmes for students in international development studies in Canada: youth perspectives and educator insights. Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienne d'études du développement, 34, 416-430.


Wiley, D. & Root, C. (2003). Educational Partnerships with Foreign Institutions for Increasing the Quality of International Education in the United States. Retrieved on 10 July 2015 on


Woolf, M. (2006). Come and See the Poor People: The Pursuit of Exotica. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 13, 135-146.



LEMONOC questionnaire on student mobility

LEMONOC literature review