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First 17 'European Universities' selected: Major step towards building a #EuropeanEducationArea

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The European Commission has announced the higher education institutions from all over Europe that will be part of the first European Universities alliances. They will enhance the quality and attractiveness of European higher education and boost co-operation between institutions, their students and staff. 

Out of 54 applications received, 17 European universities involving 114 higher education institutions from 24 member states were selected (see Annex), based on an evaluation carried out by 26 independent external experts, including rectors, professors and researchers, appointed by the Commission. European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy and promote European values and identity. The initiative is designed to significantly strengthen mobility of students and staff, and foster the quality, inclusiveness and competitiveness of European higher education.  

Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said: "I am pleased to see the ambition of the first 17 European Universities, which will act as role models for others across the EU. They will enable the next generations of students to experience Europe by studying in different countries. I am convinced that this initiative, a key building block of the European Education Area, will be a real game changer for higher education in Europe, boosting excellence and inclusion.

The selection of European Universities includes a broad range of higher education institutions from across the EU, from universities of applied sciences, technical universities and universities of fine arts to comprehensive and research-intensive universities.

European Universities will become inter-university campuses around which students, doctoral candidates, staff and researchers can move seamlessly. They will pool their expertise, platforms and resources to deliver joint curricula or modules covering various disciplines. These curricula will be very flexible and will allow students to personalise their education, choosing what, where and when to study and get a European degree. European Universities will also contribute to the sustainable economic development of the regions where they are located, as their students will work closely with companies, municipal authorities, academics and researchers to find solutions to the challenges their regions are facing.

In total, a budget of up to €85 million is available for the first 17 'European Universities'. Each alliance will receive up to 5m in the coming three years to start implementing their plans and pave the way for other higher education institutions across the EU to follow. Their progress will be closely monitored.

This first call – together with a second one to be launched this autumn – will test different models to implement the new concept of European Universities and its potential to boost higher education. For the next long-term EU budget running from 2021-2027, the Commission proposed to fully roll out European Universities under Erasmus+, with a significantly increased budget. While some alliances are comprehensive and cover all disciplines, others are for example focusing on urban coastal sustainability, social sciences or global health. Each alliance is composed on an average of seven higher education institutions from all parts of Europe, leading to new partnerships. This reflects the distribution of applications received from the various countries.

Background

The European Commission proposed this new initiative to European Union leaders ahead of the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. The initiative was endorsed by the European Council in December 2017 which called for the emergence of at least 20 European Universities by 2024 and is part of the push towards establishing a European Education Area by 2025.

Developed together with member states, higher education institutions and student organizations, the concept of the European Universities attracted applications from 54 alliances involving more than 300 higher education institutions from 28 Member States and other Erasmus+ Programme Countries. They replied to an Erasmus+ call on “European Universities” launched in October 2018.

The €60m originally set aside for this new Erasmus+ initiative has been increased to €85m allowing for the funding of 17 alliances rather than the 12 initially foreseen.

More information

Factsheet

European Universities Initiative

Information on the Call for Proposals

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#Coronavirus - British universities should not reopen in September, says union

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British universities should scrap plans to reopen in September to prevent travelling students from fuelling the country’s coronavirus pandemic, a union said, calling for courses to be taught online. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has come under fire over its moves to restart education, especially after a row over exam results for school students and a failed attempt to bring all pupils back to their classes earlier this year, writes Elizabeth Piper.

Johnson has been calling on Britons to return to something more akin to normality after the coronavirus lockdown, calling on workers to return to offices to help the economy recover from a 20% contraction in the April-June period.

But the University and College Union (UCU) said it was too early to send students back to universities, warning they could be blamed if cases of COVID-19 increased. “Moving a million plus students around the country is a recipe for disaster and risks leaving ill-prepared universities as the care homes of a second wave,” UCU general secretary Jo Grady said in a statement. “It is time for the government to finally take some decisive and responsible action in this crisis and tell universities to abandon plans for face-to-face teaching,” she said, urging the government to move all teaching online for the first term.

Stephen Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury (finance ministry), said he did not agree with the argument. “I think universities like the rest of the economy need to come back and students need to be able to do so,” he told Times Radio. Several universities say they are ready to reopen next month after weeks of preparation and some students say they have already spent money on such things as housing in preparation for the new term.

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Skills: Five new cross-border collaboration projects selected for #Erasmus+ funding to develop excellence in vocational training in Europe

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The Commission has proposed Erasmus+ funding for five new Platforms of Centres of Vocational Excellence, to meet the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy. Funded through Erasmus+ for a maximum budget of €4 million each, the platforms will be active in sectors such as green innovation and urban greening, microelectronics, and the furniture and wood sector.

They will also support major European priorities such as the digital and green transitions, sustainable growth, and the social inclusion of individuals belonging to disadvantaged groups. Selected from among 55 applications, the five newly-selected Platforms of Vocational Excellence involve 167 partner organisations from 17 member states and 4 other countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme.

The chosen projects respond to a changing labour market and are aligned with the priorities of the European Skills Agenda and the Commission proposal for a Council recommendation on Vocational Education and Training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience presented on 1 July. The press release is available here.

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Long-term EU budget: MEPs slam cuts to culture and #Education

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In a debate in the Culture and Education Committee with the Commission, all MEPs referred to cuts in the revised MFF proposal (MFF: Multiannual Financial Framework) as “unacceptable” for EU culture and education, stressing that these sectors were particularly depleted by the COVID-19 crisis and need increased support to recover.

While commending the “unprecedented level of financial support” in the EU Recovery plan, tabled alongside the revised MFF, they criticized the Commission for rowing back on its first MFF proposal in 2018.

“We do not support the Commission’s proposal,”said Committee Chairwoman Sabine Verheyen, at the opening of the debate. “Here is what this means for EU programmes: the Solidarity Corps will be offering fewer opportunities to young people - full-stop. “Creative Europe” will be supporting fewer artists and fewer creators — full-stop. For Erasmus+, we can kiss goodbye to the aim of reaching 12 million participants — because we are not prepared to offer everyone lower-quality, short-term exchanges just to get the numbers up”, she added.

Culture and Education Committee MEPs also pointed to the promise made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, ahead of her election, when she pledged to support the EP’s request to triple Erasmus+ funding in the MFF 2021-2027.

Video statement by Chair Verheyen, following the debate.

Re-watch the full committee debate.

Next steps

After the revised MFF proposal was tabled by the Commission on 27 May 2020, it is now up to EU member states to agree on their position. The EP needs to approve any MFF before it can come into force.

Background

Compared to the Commission’s initial MFF proposal (2018), the May 2020 revised proposal (when calculated in 2018 prices) presents a 20% cut to the European Solidarity Fund, a 13% cut to Creative Europe and a 7% cut to Erasmus+.

More information

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