In order to anticipate how the connection of the EWP Network can be achieved with the Mobility Tool+ (MT+) contact was established with the European Commission by the WP2 leaders of the EWP project. The development of data standards and connectors intends to allow an automatic exchange of information among HEIs can also enable seamless interactions between the IT systems of the HEIs and those of national data repositories or the Mobility Tool+. This would evidently amount to an important efficiency gain for all parties involved (HEIs and EC).
On March 2 Paul Leys from Ghent University, Stefan Jahnke and Joao Bacelar from European University Foundation were invited to the European Commission to meet with two colleagues from the MT+ technical team. The meeting was accompanied by Daphne Scherer and Elena Tegovska and facilitated by Vanessa Debiais-Sainton.
The first round of questions concerned the stability of the existing data flows and data dictionaries. The workflows are likely to change from 2017 onwards, when the EC will introduce the concept of draft mobility. This will mean HEIs will have to report outgoing mobilities already before the mobilities take place. The aim is to automate the process ofissuing of OLS licenses, which means the data flow will substantially change and therefore also influence at what point the EWP Network will have to interact with the Mobility Tool+. It is expected that changes to the existing data dictionaries will be small or non-existent. Seeing how the implementation of draft mobilities would introduce an extra step in the management of Erasmus exchanges it strengthens the case for linking the EWP and MT+.
From here the discussion moved towards the question of how such connection could be envisaged, and it was immediately clear this is likely to prove a complex feat, owing to the fact that the EC has stringent security requirements that must be met. Current authentication procedures are manual and person based through a front-end interface and no API for connecting has so far been considered. Automatic connection to the authentication systems of the EC seem to be of concern, as the responsibility for the infrastructure is distributed between different DGs and Units of the EC. It was elaborated that in case an automatic entry point would be established, it should be a single point of entry, which then has to fulfil strict security guidelines and present a full technical outline and the concrete business case before being considered for approval.
In the event of bilateral communication a single point of access would be the preferred solution by the EC; the possibility that data will flow unidirectionally (from EWP network to MT+) is likely to ease security concerns. This matter needs to be looked into in greater details by both parties.
Several assorted matters were touched upon, including the notion of using the unique user identifiers generated by the MT+ and the possibility of setting up a dedicated web service to be able to relay institutional information associated to PIC codes.
The meeting has met the purpose of starting building bridges with the EC technical teams with a view to build trust and pave the way for future cooperation. The MT+ team colleagues were also made aware of the EWP related discussions on GitHub.