Tag: Europe 2020

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“.

New Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013

EUInnovation capacity is high on the agenda for the European Union who has recently published the most recent ranking of member states, the so called Innovation Union Scoreboard 2013.

The Innovation Union is one of the seven flagship projects within the Europe 2020 strategy, where the main activities are coordinated under the slogan “more jobs, improved lives and better society”. The three main aims are to put Europe to the world class in science production, remove barriers for innovation and improved coordination of public and private sector.

The results from 2013 Innovation Scoreboard indicate that those who have been in the forefront in terms of their innovation capacity have continued their success and further increased their capacity. However, the gap from these leaders to the other member states is widening as there are also countries that have not been able to contirbute as much to the developments.

The press release quotes the Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “This year’s results show that the economic crisis has negatively impacted innovation activity in some parts of Europe. Investment in innovation is crucial if we want to maintain our global competitiveness and restore growth in Europe.

News: Recent developments in EU – new funding frame and upcoming programmes

EUAbout ten days ago, on 8th of February, the European Council (consisting of heads of state of EU countries) reached an agreement on the new multiannual framework (MFF) for  the budget cycle 2014-2020. This in itself is not a budget negotiation, but has three aims: (a) the limit of possible spending – the “ceiling”, (b) on what the money should be spent and (c) rules of where the expenditure is to come from.   (read more about what you need to know about the MFF here).

These decisions have important impacts on the policy focus of the EU, and the emphasis of EU activities during the cycle, and as such have also important consequences for education as a policy sector, especially as the role of EU as a supranational policy actor in education has often been linked to their capacity to provide funding and administrative capacity. As such, a more constrained funding environment can also have consequences for the opportunities of EU to take this role in an active manner.

For the first time, the overall available expenditure was less than during the previous budget year. The overall ceiling was set as  EUR 908.40 billion, compared to EUR 942.78 billion in the MFF 2007-2013, a reduction of 3,4% in real terms. However, in this context, education was clearly identified as a priority area, and the summary of the agreement provided by EU indicated that “EU leaders agreed on a substantial increase of the financial means for future geared expenditure such as research, innovation and education“. Furthermore, it is indicated that “the expenditure ceiling for sub-heading 1a (“competitiveness”) amounts to EUR 125.61 billion, which is an increase of more than 37% compared to the MFF 2007-2013“.