Tag: EU

Science4Refugees initiative

science4refugess_bannerRefugee situation is a topic gaining substantial amount in European societies at the moment. The need for solutions spans from the short term need to find accomodation and food, to more long term concerns.

The EU has launched an initiative to support those with academic backgrounds who now find themselves in a refugee situation. From the Science4Refugees website:

  • The European Commission has launched the Science4Refugees initiative to help refugee scientists and researchers find suitable jobs that both improve their own situation and put their skills and experience to good use in Europe’s research system.
  • Science4Refugees matches talented refugees and asylum seekers who have a scientific background with positions in universities and research institutions that are ‘refugee-welcoming organisations’ and that have suitable positions available, including internships and part-time and full-time jobs.
  • Science4Refugees is accessible to refugees and institutions through the EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion portal, a pan-European initiative providing access to a complete range of information and support services to researchers wishing to find jobs and pursue their research careers in Europe

If you are yourself, or know anyone with this background – sign up and enter the CVs to the EURAXESS portal, marking it with “Science4Refugees”.

Read more about he conditions and procedures for application here




New EU report: Best systems to promote student mobility in Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and Italy

eurydice reportThe EU has now launched a new mobility scoreboard to create an oversight over member state activities in relation to mobility of students. The Eurydice report published four days ago was a follow up to the 2011 Council Recommendation on mobility and is a product of cooperation with experts from the member states. The scoreboard focuses on five areas which we will briefly summarise below:

  • information and guidance
  • foreign language preparation
  • portability of public grants and loans
  • recognition of learning outcomes
  • and mobility support to students from a low socio-economic background

The data was collected in 2012 and 2013 from a questionnaire developed by Eurydice, member  states and the European Commission. The report covers all EU member states as well as Iceland, Turkey, Liechtenstein and Norway.  Based on selected indicators, scorecards were developed that ranked countries from “green” (best scores) to “red” (worst scores), with a total of six ranks of scores.




Education and Training in Europe 2020 – responses in member states

EUThe European Commission has published a new Eurydice report on the responses to Education 2020 from the EU member states. The report reviews all four key areas relevant to Education 2020 strategy: early school leaving (ESL), higher education, youth employment and vocational education and training (VET) and lifelong learning. The aims of the report are to provide a more cross-case analysis rather than a progress report by individual countries that can instead be  found here.

When it comes to higher education, the core benchmark used is the widely stated 40% of age cohort with tertiary education, and the policy ambitions are closely related to the 2011 Modernisation agenda with two main goals being: increased attainment rates and improvement of quality and relevance of higher education. While improvement is reported across the countries, one is still left with a question what that 40% participation rate means in terms of distribution within countries, and why is such a general benchmark useful in itself. Countries reporting growth or decrease can do that for very various reasons, some of which might be minor corrections or have little relevance for higher education policies. While the report also takes into account the equity and access aspects of widening participation, the report also refers to a recent Eurydice report and states that these are rarely a core element in higher education policies (p.37).

Regarding the quality and relevance, the report is primarily concerned with quality assurance systems, performance based funding, closer links to the industry and employability of graduates, following the core focus of the Modernisation agenda. While certain best-practice cases and initiatives related to these topics are highlighted across these topics, there also appears to be great diversity regarding the focus on these issues and the instruments employed, something to be expected considering the diverse higher education landscape in Europe.




Budget cuts and skills mismatches – doom and gloom in European higher education?

Tertiary education attainment  (Source: Monitor for )

Tertiary education attainment
(Source: EU Education and Training Monitor )

Last week, the latest Education and Training Monitor was published by the European Commission, highlighting the impact of budget cuts on European higher education.

The Commission has been calling Member states to focus on “growth friendly expenditure“, including education and training, issuing individual recommendations to 17 countries in July 2013. However, the tendency is that funding available for education and training has been decreasing and budget cuts are a common phenomenon across Europe.

Europe 2020 Strategy has specified a target of 40% of people aged 30-34 holding a higher education degree, and while progress is slow, there has been steady increase towards that number. However, despite the average number looking good, this increase might only lead to more disparity between countries. Clear differences can be identified between countries like Greece and Italy on the one hand, and the likes of Ireland on the other. With successful countries increasing their attainment levels, the gap with the countries not following this increase is only likely to increase.

The Education and Training Monitor further refers to PIAAC results to highlight problems with adult skills and competencies in Europe, and how this would be a serious concern for competitiveness in Europe. The issue is also closely aligned with EU focus on lifelong learning, as the key findings suggest: “Europe is facing a serious skills gap that risks hampering growth and employment in the future“. Furthermore, the ones participating in lifelong learning tend to be the ones who are young and highly educated. This is highlighted as an issue, as: “20% of 16 to 65 year-olds is unable to exceed a basic level of literacy and 24% is unable to do so in numeracy“.




EU focus on youth unemployment – can vocational education save Southern Europe?

EUThe current economic crisis has had wide spread effects and one can frequently hear talk about the lost generations of youth who were hit particularly hard. Recent CEDEFOP skills forecasts indicate a rather slow growth, even when following the more optimistic scenarios. According to the baseline scenario, the EU27 countries can expect to return to pre-crisis levels between 2017 and 2018, according to the pessimistic scenario they would still be below crisis levels in 2025.

Furthermore, the predictions also include a gradual but constant increase of people working in high skilled sectors, and even low-skilled sectors are expected to increase in complexity. But also these predictions refer to the issues with youth unemployment, indicating the urgency of the issue.

In July 2013, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships was launched, marking the EUs increased interest in combating youth unemployment. Apprenticeships are seen as a key aspect of promoting new arenas for learning and facilitating employability.

At a CEDEFOP conference earlier this summer, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou explained some of the rationales, highlighting strong EU involvement in the area