Tag: European Commission

Consultation of EUs new modernisation agenda for higher education

Flag_of_Europe.svgIn the end of 2015, the European Union announced a new consultation in their plans for a new modernisation agenda.

The consultation is carried out in the form an online questionnaire and focuses on the following aspects:

  1. the current strengths and weaknesses of higher education in the EU
  2. the priority areas where those in charge of higher education should focus their attention and
  3. how you think the EU should support efforts to improve higher education.

The target audience is wide, including students, higher education institution staff and researchers, social partner organisations representing employers and workers, governmental bodies, relevant associations, and umbrella organisations. Read more here.

The consultation will be open until 29th of February and summaries of the views received can be expected about a month after that.




News: Establishing of ESAA met with both enthusiasm and critique

DG EAC formally announced the launch of Erasmus+ Students and Alumni Association (ESAA) this Friday, 12th of June with a kick-off conference. About 250 participants were invited, including founding associations, representatives from the European Comimsion, and stakeholder representatives who have been involved in ESAA.

The new association is supported by DG EAC and represent uniting for existing associations under one umbrella, Erasmus Student Network (ESN), Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association (EMA), the garagErasmus Foundation and Erasmus+ Oceans.

The website highlights ESAA aim to  be a “dynamic platform for networking, professional development and intercultural learning while promoting European Higher Education and worldwide cooperation”. On the press site, it is also highlighted that the foreseen aim is to develop projects and improve quality of education, in addition to providing an alumni network. You can view the presentations from the launch here, where they highlight the aims of the new organization.

The Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport,  Tibor Navracsics, said about ESAA in the press release: “Erasmus+ is one of Europe’s flagship projects, and rightly so. Studying in another country, whether for a short or longer period, is a great experience for young Europeans: It helps them to enhance their skills as well as to understand and accept cultural and other differences. Student and alumni associations offer crucial support to help young people make the most of this opportunity – before, during and after their stay abroad. That is why I am very pleased that ESAA will help to channel this support and know-how even more effectively. I am looking forward to seeing new activities that will further improve the mobility experience, encourage networking and help promote the opportunities Erasmus+ offers to a wider audience.”

It appears that the event was marked with enthusiasm by those attending, and in social media the role of networking amongst members was frequently highlighted. For discussions and photos from the event – follow the #ESAAkickoff hashtag on Twitter.

However, the establishment of ESAA has also been met with considerable critique from ESU – the European Student Union, who has raised concerns about the representative nature of ESAA, Commission involvement in shaping a student organization and the kind of policy agenda that is being pushed.




News: Education and training monitor 2014

ed2014The European Commision has issued the third “Education and Training Monitor” that examines the development of education and training systems across the EU. Its purpose is to follow up on the Europe 2020 targets for education and training. The two headline targets include: reducing early school leavers under 10% and increasing tertiary attainment to at least 40%. The monitoring exercise follows more indicators that are considered important to reach these targets and understand the context.

Regarding higher education attainment, it appears that participation rates in average in Europe are increasing. In 2010, average tertiary education attainment was at 33,6%, and this has now increased to 36,9% – not far off the 40% target. However, looking at the map of Europe, there are also great disparities in this area, and Italy and Romania have attainment levels at 22,4% and 22,8% respectively, a sharp contrast from Ireland, where tertiary education attainment is at 52%, and additionally UK, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Luxembourg where tertiary education attainment is over 45%.

Regarding employability, the target is that by 2020, the share of those who have graduated from upper secondary or tertiary education should be at least 82%. This number has however been steadily decreasing, from 77,4% in 2010 to 75,5% in 2013. Countries like Germany, the Nerthelands and Luxembour show employment rates of over 85% for their graduates. At the same time, and rather unsurprisingly countries in the South of Europe who have been hit hard by the economic crisis show employment rates that are under 60%, where employment rate in Greece is just 40%.




News: European Tertiary Education Register database published

eterYesterday, 2nd of July,  it was announced that the new European Tertiary Education Register (ETER) database is now published and accessible for users. The database represents a “new transparency approach to higher education“, according to the press release by the European Commission.

In the press release, Androulla Vassiliiou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth commented on the potential of new register: “It will increase transparency in higher education and help develop a wider range of analysis and information, improve links between education and research, and support the diversity of higher education in Europe.“.

The ETER database provides detailed information on 2250 higher education institutions in Europe, including such information as:

  • Institutional descriptions, e.g. the name of the institution and founding year.
  • Geographical description such as region, city of the main seat and postcode.
  • Numbers of students and graduates at diploma, bachelor, master, doctoral level, gender, fields of education, nationality and mobility.
  • HEI expenditure and revenue.
  • Number of academic and non-academic staff, number of professors.
  • Research activities (PhD students, R&D expenditure)




European Commission report on quality assurance in Europe

EUQuality assurance is one of the areas where European cooperation has advanced in a relatively significant manner over the last decade. Recently, the Commission published a new report on issues related to quality and quality assurance in Europe. The report refers to the 2009 report that put forward three main aims: to make quality assurance (QA) more transparent for users, to link it closer to the wider aims of higher education, and to further develop cross-border cooperation. 

The current report sums up the most important developments in quality assurance in Europe since 2009 with various available reports from sources such as EHEA working group, EUA, EACEA, IBAR and ESU. While progress is reported on most areas, it is also highlighted that linking quality assurance to concrete quality improvement processes and strategic work of the institutions remains a challenge. The positive impact of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) is noted, but it is also highlighted that their implementation has this far been rather uneven, and a revision process of ESG is now in process. 

The report highlights that the areas where more action is still necessary are in particular widening access, employability, internationalisation, improvement of doctoral training as well as human resource strategies. The need to shift attention to the content rather than the procedural aspects of quality assurance is highlighted in several parts of the document. Furthermore quality assurance issues are linked to mobility concerns and qualifications frameworks, perhaps a rather unsurprising linkage, considering that both of these topics have been a rather successful themes in European higher education for EU led joint cooperation.