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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Promoting higher education

Promoting higher education

Education on centre stage

The development of higher education in the EU’s neighbouring partner countries and improved student and academic mobility is among the key areas of our EU support. In order to achieve the aims of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) - building a common space of stability and prosperity between the EU and its neighbours, fostering social and economic development and accomplishing democratic transition processes in partner countries - a strong and educated human capital is a crucial factor.

Forging new partnerships between universities from Member States and the different partner countries should help to modernise curricula and teaching methods, build research capacities and improve graduate employability and institutional governance.

Higher education, as a key area for EU cooperation with European Neighbourhood countries, has received more than €550 million in 2007-2013 through the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes.

Given the importance of higher education for overall reforms in partner countries, support to this sector will continue to be a priority for EU cooperation in 2014-2020. Dedicated funding will be provided to the Erasmus+ programme which will support higher education in the partner countries.

Erasmus+ and funding for higher education from 2014

The Erasmus+ programme will include three main actions:

  • Key Action 1 – Learning mobility of individuals: mobility, understood as degree mobility for joint EU Masters programmes and credit mobility (up to 12 months)
  • Key Action 2 - Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices: capacity building, institutional reform and related student and staff mobility
  • Key Action 3 - Support for policy reform: policy support and policy dialogue, including project/information offices and promotional activities in ENP partner countries

Overview of support to higher education in 2007-2013

In 2007-2013 two EU programmes were contributing to improving higher education in partner countries: TEMPUS and the Erasmus Mundus programme. Following the last selections in 2012 and 2013, new Erasmus Mundus and Tempus projects were funded and will continue operating for the years to come. Higher education, as a key area for EU cooperation with European Neighbourhood countries, has received more than €550 million in 2007-2013 through the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes.

Capacity Building - TEMPUS programme

TEMPUS aimed to support the modernisation of higher education in the EU's surrounding area. Rather than focusing on individual mobility, Tempus promoted institutional cooperation between higher education institutions in the EU and the partner countries.

TEMPUS funded co-operative projects in areas such as curriculum development, teacher training, university management and structural reform in higher education. It put special emphasis on encouraging the mobility of academic and administrative staff from higher education institutions. Tempus began in 1990 in Eastern Europe and has since been extended to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Southern Mediterranean.

Partnerships between Higher Education Institutions

Erasmus Mundus was a cooperation and mobility programme in the field of higher education that aimed to enhance the quality of European higher education and to promote dialogue and understanding between people and cultures through cooperation with third countries. In addition, it contributeed to the development of human resources and the international cooperation capacity of higher education institutions in third countries by increasing mobility between the European Union and these countries.

The Erasmus Mundus programme provided support to:

  • higher education institutions wishing to implement joint programmes at postgraduate level (Action 1) or to set-up inter-institutional cooperation partnerships between universities from Europe and targeted third countries (Action 2);
  • individual students, researchers and university staff who wish to spend a study / research / teaching period in the context of one of the above mentioned joint programmes or cooperation partnerships (Action 1 and Action 2);
  • any organisation active in the field of higher education that wishes to develop projects aimed at enhancing the attractiveness, profile, visibility and image of European higher education worldwide (Action 3)

Erasmus Mundus brought together higher education institutions from the Neighbourhood and Europe as a basis for structured cooperation and for promoting individual mobility at all levels of higher education, including students (undergraduate, master, doctoral and post-doctoral), academic staff (for teaching, training, and research) and administrative staff.

Partnerships in the framework of Erasmus Mundus laid the basis for enhancing academic cooperation and exchanges of students and academics, contributing to the socio-economic development of partner countries.

Evaluations of the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes indicated that both programmes have generally produced very satisfactory results, having a significant impact on the higher education systems of partner countries and on fostering co-operation both at regional level and within individual partner countries.

Cooperation between Schools - eTwinning Plus

eTwinning Plus provides a platform for schools in the Neighbourhood East to link with EU schools participating in eTwinning

The countries participating in eTwinning Plus include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine.

eTwinning Plus promotes school collaboration through the use of Information and Communication Technologies by providing support, tools and services for schools that are involved in the programme.

eTwinning Plus provides a safe, online environment to engage with partner schools, work on projects and communicate with like-minded educational professionals in the existing eTwinning network, plus a selected number of schools from eTwinning’s neighbouring countries.