European Commission launches HE strategy

July 23, 2013

The European Commission has released a new higher education strategy designed to ensure that the continent remains the most attractive destination for international students and promote a more globalised outlook in terms of curricula and language learning.

Androulla Vassillou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, presents the strategy

One of the main goals of the strategy, European higher education in the world, is the promotion of international mobility of student and staff as a key priority, and it encourages the global recognition of qualifications and learning credits to enhance transparency and portability.

The Commission will provide increase financial support via the recently announced Erasmus+ programme, to be launched in 2014, which allows for 135,000 student and staff exchanges between the EU and the rest of the world, 100,000 more than the current Erasmus Mundus scheme.

The Commission said that the EU currently attracts around 45 per cent of all international higher education students globally, but that this was becoming an increasingly competitive field. The strategy document notes that three states – the UK, Germany and France – account for 63 per cent on non-EU students in the EU.

The promotion of Europe as a collective study destination will be enhanced by the Commission, while it also provided support to the national promotional efforts of member states, particularly those with a smaller international presence. Through the new multi-dimensional U-Multirank system for institutions, due to publish first results in 2014, the Commission aims to support transparency and quality.

As previously reported, the Commission has already announced proposals to standardise immigration procedures across member states.

The promotion of internationalisation at home to benefit the vast majority of students that are not internationally mobile is also prioritised, calling for institutions and states to develop international criteria and increase opportunities to develop language skills, especially additional language courses in the native language of an institution delivering degrees to international students in English.

Androulla Vassillou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said at the strategy launch, “European universities need to think global. They must act strategically to capitalise on Europe’s reputation for top-quality higher education. They need to promote the mobility of students and staff, provide world-class innovative curricula, as well as excellence in teaching and research.”

The strategy calls for higher education institutions to forge partnerships within and outside Europe, develop joint degrees offered across two countries – highlighting the popularity of this in the Erasmus Mundus scheme – increase strategic partnerships with a balanced involvement of business and education, and increase cooperation with developing countries.

“While many European universities have good links inside the EU, many lack a clear strategy for strengthening ties with non-European partners. This urgently needs to change. The Commission will support member states so that they can develop their international higher education networks. There is no one-size-fits-all model for this: countries need to play to their strengths,” said Vassillou.

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