Last week, the European Commission also unveiled detailed proposals for the financing and structure of its next long-term programme (2014-2020) for education, training, youth and sport: “Erasmus for All”. The seven-year programme has a proposed total budget of €19 billion, a major increase (70% according to the EC) on the current programme. It aims to bring together all the current EU and international schemes in these areas, replacing seven existing programmes with one.
The Commission said it would focus on “EU added value and systemic impact, with support for three types of action: learning opportunities for individuals, both within the EU and beyond; institutional cooperation between educational institutions, youth organisations, businesses, local and regional authorities and NGOs; and support for reforms in Member States to modernise education and training systems and promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability”. Two-thirds of the funding would be spent on mobility grants to enhance knowledge and skills, it added.
EUA welcomes the proposed funding increase for education, and higher education in particular, which demonstrates the EU is serious about achieving the EU 2020 goals and specifically about educating and training “smart people for smart growth”. This focus clearly underlines the strategic European added value of common European education and research activities that bring people together, promote the sharing of knowledge, and enable synergies impossible to create at national level.
EUA is a strong advocate for the simplification and mainstreaming of the EC programmes addressing higher education, and in particular for a better integration of the international dimension. The three key actions of learning mobility, cooperation and policy reform promise to be broad and flexible enough to facilitate all activities of strategic importance for European and international higher education exchange and cooperation. In this regard, EUA Secretary General Lesley Wilson expressed her expectation that the business focus of the Large Scale Partnerships would be broadly defined, thus allowing for interaction between universities and a wide range of external partners, including e.g. local governments and NGOs, and that clearly structured, flexible and navigable programmes should be of clear benefit to all stakeholders.
Following the Commission announcement, EUA will now be consulting its membership to get further feedback from universities. This will build on EUA’s previous policy positions including its 2010 response to the EC’s public consultation on the future EU programmes for European and international mobility and cooperation.
The Erasmus for All proposal will now have to go forward for discussion with the EU Council (27 Member States) and the European Parliament who will take the final decision on the budgetary framework before the end of 2013. The final decision on the budget for the new education programme will also be dependent on the outcomes of the discussion on the overall European financial framework for 2014-2020.
Find out more about Erasmus for All here