Tag: Europe of Knowledge

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“.




EUSA fellowships for PhD research related to European integration

eusaThe 2014 EUSA Haas Fund Fellowship Competition has recently been announced. This is an annual fellowship for graduate student EU-related dissertation research (including themes related to Europe of Knowledge!).

The fellowship honoring the memory of the late scholar Ernst B. Haas (1924-2003). They offer one or more unrestricted fellowship of at least $1,500 to support the dissertation research of any graduate student pursuing an EU-related dissertation topic in the academic year 2013-2014. Applicants must:

  • be pursuing the doctoral degree (PhD) at an accredited institution in any country;
  • be writing a dissertation in English;
  • have an EU-related, doctoral dissertation topic approved by the professor who will supervise it; and,
  • be able to demonstrate clearly the relevance to EU studies of the dissertation topic.

For application, you need to submit:

  1. A one-page précis of the project that specifies its relevance to EU Studies and describes how the fellowship would be used;
  2. A CV, and
  3. Ask for two letters of support to be sent directly to EUSA. These letters should be from professors serving on the student’s dissertation committee, and one should be the chair.

The applications should be sent by email to eusa@pitt.edu with the heading “2014 E.B. Haas Fund Fellowship competition.”
The firm deadline for applications to be received in the EUSA office is January 3, 2014.

The successful applicant will be notified in March of 2014, and will receive the grant soon thereafter. The fellowship will be paid in one lump sum by check and in US dollars only.




Erasmus+ now approved in the European Parliament

EUA few days ago, on Tuesday, the European Parliament approved the new Erasmus+ programme and budget for 2014-2020. Erasmus+ represents a new approach by the European Union to approach its various programmes where existing programmes for education, training, youth and sport will be merged into one unified programme with a growing budget that will begin in January 2014.

The budget for the new programme is €14.7 billion which represents a 40% increase in comparison to current budgets. The name follows up on the existing Erasmus programme which is a successful mobility scheme for European higher education students. Erasmus has since its introduction in 1987 been the flagship project for education in the European Union, and in July 2013 the number of Erasmus students reached 3 million.

In the new Erasmus+ programme, existing EU programmes will be merged into one, including the Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries). This also represents a more holistic perspective on education promoted by the EU in recent years where there is a clear aim of more policy coordination between various educational sectors but also with relevant adjacent policy areas.

The new programme will provide mobility grants for 4 million individuals, the press release highlighted that this includes 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, and half a million youth in exchange programmes as well as volunteers. Furthermore, funding will be provided for education and training staff, youth workers and for partnerships between universities, colleges, schools, enterprises, and not-for-profit organisations, following up on existing instruments and programmes.




Resource: EURASHE library

eurasheEURASHE is the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education, its members being institutions that offer professionally oriented programmes.

EURASHE was established in 1990 and has now over 1,400 higher education institutions in 40 countries. 

Did you know that the EURASHE website also includes an extensive library?

The library includes a large variety of documents related to EURASHE – including publications (policy positions, ad-hoc reports, studies, etc), documentation of presentations at events arranged by EURASHE (including various seminars, conferences etc), information about projects EURASHE has participated in, and various other kinds of documents. The library is searchable by keyword or author and includes within document search.

For anyone interested in European policy or professional higher education, the library can provide some valuable insights into the developments in policy positions.

Visit the electronic library here.