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Towards a new European system to follow students' post-graduate paths

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To improve education and training systems, it is key to have access to good quality information on what graduates do after obtaining their higher education qualifications and how they perceive the relevance of their studies. Two reports published by the European Commission today show the benefits of an EU-wide graduate tracking system to achieve exactly this.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “Education and training will play an essential role for the sustainable economic and social recovery of the European Union. Knowing which types of learning and qualifications promote professional success and personal fulfilment will help improve the efficiency and relevance of Europe's higher education systems. This will also help anticipate and foresee the future professions and prepare for them.”

The European graduate pilot survey reached out to Bachelor, Master and tertiary short-cycle graduates one and five years after graduation in eight countries (Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Malta, Lithuania and Norway). The survey indicates key factors to improve study outcomes. Experience abroad during a study period increases the level of problem-solving skills. An “activating learning environment”, where lectures are complemented with problem-based and work-based learning, provides better preparation for the labour market.

Study-related work experience as part of the curriculum reduces by nearly half the risk of being unemployed or in a lower skilled job. However, less than half of survey respondents reported studying in an activating environment, showing the need for further efforts to support this approach. The European Universities initiative, a flagship of the European Education Area, promotes student-centred and challenge-based learning. An additional mapping of graduate tracking practices in the Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein finds that there are still significant efforts required to reach a comparable graduate tracking system at European level.

Education

President von der Leyen receives Empress Theophano Prize for the Erasmus programme

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On 7 October, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) accepted the Empress Theophano Prize, awarded to the Erasmus programme, during a ceremony held at the Rotunda Monument in Thessaloniki, Greece, which she attended via videoconference. The Prize rewards individuals or organisations who make an outstanding contribution to deepening European cooperation and improving the understanding of the diverse historic interdependencies in Europe.

Upon receiving the Prize, the president said she was honoured to receive the Prize “for the ten million Europeans who have taken part in the Erasmus programme since its inception” and dedicated it “to the students, the teachers, the dreamers who have made this European miracle come true”.

In her acceptance speech, President von der Leyen also drew parallels between the European recovery plan and Erasmus+: “Just as Erasmus was then, NextGenerationEU is now. It is a program of unprecedented scale and scope. And it can become the next great unifying project for our Union. We are investing together not only in a collective recovery, but also in our common future. Solidarity, trust and unity have to be built and rebuilt time and time again. I do not know whether NextGenerationEU can change Europe as profoundly as the Erasmus programme did. But I know that once again Europe has chosen to master and shape its future - together.”

Read the President's full speech online in English or French, and watch it back here. More than 4 million people will have had the opportunity to study, train, and gain experience abroad between 2014 and 2020 thanks to the Erasmus+ programme. Learn more about Erasmus here

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Adult learning

#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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#Coronavirus - #Erasmus+ mobilized for a strong response to the pandemic

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The Commission has adopted a revision of the Erasmus+ 2020 Annual Work Programme, providing an additional €200 million to boost digital education and training and promote skills development and inclusion through creativity and the arts. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive impact on education and training, with new ways of teaching and learning requiring innovative, creative and inclusive solutions.

Promoting the European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “The European Education Area needs to foster digital education and skills to mitigate disruptions caused by the pandemic and to support Europe's role in the digital transition. The Commission will publish extraordinary Erasmus+ calls of €200 million that will offer more opportunities to learn, teach and share in the digital era. Effective, innovative and inclusive solutions to improve digital education and skills do exist and will benefit from European support.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “I am delighted that the Erasmus+ programme is being mobilised to support key actors in education, training and youth in these challenging times. €200 million will be available to support digital education and training, digital youth work, but also creative skills and social inclusion. It is an important step, paving the way for the Digital Education Action Plan, which the Commission will launch this autumn.”

The Erasmus+ programme will support projects to enhance digital teaching, learning and assessment in schools, higher education and vocational training. It will also provide opportunities for schools, youth organisations and adult learning institutions to support skills development, to boost creativity and to enhance social inclusion through the arts, together with the cultural and creative sectors. Calls for proposals for projects in these areas will be published in the coming weeks. Interested organisations should get in touch with their Erasmus+ National Agency

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