January - March 2015

1. Eurydice report on the Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability

Date published: March 30 2015

Please click here to access the Eurydice report on the Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability.


2. Startup culture among tertiary students

The EU has, for the first time, launched an initiative to provide funding directly to startups and SMEs, called the Horizon 2020 dedicated SME instrument.

Can the Commission provide information on the initiatives being taken by the EU to encourage the development of a startup culture, particularly among tertiary students?

Answer given by Ms Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission

The new instrument in Horizon 2020 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) supports innovative business idea by SMEs ambitious to grow. However it requires a company to apply and therefore its potential to support tertiary students or very young start-ups is limited.

Creating a start-up culture among students and young people requires a shift in mindsets and attitudes, and the acquisition of relevant skills. The Commission has the goal to accelerate the introduction of entrepreneurship education in schools and universities, by working in cooperation with national authorities and relevant stakeholders. The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan has entrepreneurship education and training as its first pillar.

Some EU projects contribute to training teachers, so that they can use the best methods to inspire entrepreneurial behaviours. Also, this year a pilot project for a European Network for Entrepreneurial learning will be launched to support policy development and a better coordination of existing initiatives.

The Commission is developing guidelines to support schools and universities concretely. An on-line self-assessment tool for universities that aim to develop their innovative capabilities and become 'entrepreneurial universities' is already available (

On the ground, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT)through its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) is already giving science students exposure to entrepreneurship education, and supporting the creation of innovative start-ups.

3. Adult Education and Training in Europe

Source: EACEA
Subject: Adult Education and Training in Europe
Date published: February 10 2015

Please click here to access the report on Adult Education and Training in Europe


4. Follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process

Source: European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education
Subject: Follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process
Date published: February 6 2015

Please click here to access the draft report by Krystyna Łybacka on the Follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process.


5. EUA Council Meeting

Source: European University Association
Subject: EUA Council Meeting
Date published: February 6 2015

EUA Council statement on TTIP and TISA

During its Council meeting of 30th January in Brussels, EUA unanimously adopted a statement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

The statement warns that TTIP and TiSA cast into doubt the ability of national and regional authorities to determine the nature of their Higher Education provisions and calls on the EU to make no commitments in the fields of higher and adult education.

Lesley Wilson, EUA Secretary General, has stressed that Higher Education is not a commodity to be transacted by commercial interests on a for-profit basis nor should it be subject to international trade regimes. Indeed higher education is a public responsibility which not only supports social cohesion but also addresses the growing needs of Europe’s labour markets. 

EUA has also reiterated that while greater global governance is desirable, as far as higher education is concerned, it should develop on the model of the UNESCO-supported academic recognition frameworks, designed and implemented by the sector. The internationalisation of higher education has developed at a fast pace in recent years: collaborative research, staff and student mobility, open and distance learning - to name a few aspects - have all flourished, and have done so without the framework of trade agreements.

The document can be summarised in six points:

Higher Education (HE) is a public responsibility to which all citizens must have right of access, and not a commodity to be transacted by commercial interests.
TTIP and TISA create uncertainty on the ability of Member States to determine the nature of their HE systems due to the limited scope of legislative action once the agreement has come into force and the requirement that service liberalisation: (a) can never be reduced and (b) all future services must fall automatically within the scope of the agreements.
Several HE systems include both public and private providers and many public institutions depend on a mixture of public and private funding. Such hybridity at institutional level means that TTIP and TiSA cannot be conducted with legal certainty and clarity.
Domestic policy is threatened by the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS) which gives corporations the right to sue public authorities if they consider that local legislation obstructs their ability to generate ‘legitimate’ profit.
The secrecy of the negotiations prevents the sector from understanding what specific aspects will impinge on its operating environment - not only on learning and teaching but also data collection, research and development, intellectual property and e-commerce.
Higher education, unlike trade, is not an exclusive competence of the EU. Any commitments made in TTIP or in TiSA would go far beyond the scope of its complementary competence.

EUA has been monitoring developments with TTIP and TiSA for several months and will continue to lobby and put forward its views in the interests of higher education. More information on international trade agreements can be found here.


Principles of State Responsibility to Protect Higher Education

At its Council meeting on 30th January EUA endorsed the Principles of State Responsibility to Protect Higher Education campaign promoted by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA).

The initiative articulates a need for affirmative, public recognition of the ongoing and widespread problem of attacks on higher education. It calls on states to commit to protecting their higher education sectors through existing obligations, in close co-operation with institutions and staff and with due respect for the values essential to quality higher education, including institutional autonomy and academic freedom, to ensure that higher education communities are physically secure and free from improper external influence and intimidation. 

The campaign highlights the many cases around the world where education is a victim of violence, which can have a devastating impact on targeted individuals and institutions, on the quality of research outputs, teaching and on access to higher education, and undermine the core values of higher education – including academic freedom and institutional autonomy, cross-border institutional partnerships and student and faculty exchanges.  

The report Institutional Autonomy and the Protection of Higher Education from Attack, published in October 2013, examined for the first time the interdependence of institutional autonomy and security. The report's recommendations included calls for raising awareness and developing shared principles. This led to the report Education Under Attack, 2014, which documented attacks on higher education in 28 countries. 

More information on the campaign and how to support its initiatives can be found here


European Commissioner for Education Tibor Navracsics meets with EUA Board

EUA was pleased to welcome European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics to its secretariat in Brussels on 29 January, at the beginning of the Commissioner’s term of office.

The meeting, with EUA’s President and Board, focused on trends and priorities in higher education. Given his own academic background, Commissioner Navracsics underlined his eagerness to further deepen cooperation between the European Commission and EUA, as the voice of the European higher education sector. 

EUA President Maria Helena Nazaré and Board members emphasised universities’ role in creating human capital, their contribution to regional development and the importance of university-business cooperation. Topics of common interest and concern discussed during the meeting included the need for sustainable investment in Europe’s universities, the future development of the Bologna Process and the Modernisation Agenda. 

Commissioner Navracsics and the EUA Board agreed to continue their positive exchange at the University-Business Forum on 5-6 March 2015.


6. Vocational education and training in Europe: old roots for new routes

Source: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)
Subject: Vocational education and training in Europe: old roots for new routes
Date published: February 2 2015

The challenges of the 21st century require new approaches to learning for work. Vocational education and training (VET) in Europe is evolving, but we need a clearer vision of what modern VET systems should look like. This was the central message of Cedefop Director James Calleja’s presentation to the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) Committee, in Brussels on 29 January.

This year marks Cedefop’s 40th anniversary. Citing its theme, Old roots to new routes, Mr Calleja said: ‘The old roots of established European VET systems must provide new routes - pathways, options and opportunities - to jobs and careers. VET has long-established roots in many European Union Member States. These roots nurture skills that grow into qualifications that sustain transition to work and further career development. But those old roots need to provide new routes and new ways for people to update their skills and gain new qualifications to find work, build rewarding careers and enjoy quality of life. Modern VET systems also need to provide new routes for enterprises to develop skills for economic excellence and competitive performance.’

Mr Calleja highlighted that many of the features of modern VET systems are emerging, illustrated by work Cedefop is doing. ‘With the European Commission, Member States and social partners, we are, for example, rethinking the role of work-based learning for young people and adults. We are working together on European instruments to make VET systems more flexible, so that all types of learning count, mobility for learning and work is easier and learning opportunities of all kinds are available throughout life.’

However, these different initiatives need to be integrated more closely. ‘For example,’ he says, ‘it is not just a case of improving how VET systems operate, but also their interaction with and relevance to the labour market. Cedefop has also shown that skill supply and demand forecasts that inform policy-makers about labour market trends are an essential feature of any VET system.’

Mr Calleja stressed that it is for Member States to decide the features of their modern VET systems. However, European cooperation has had a strong and positive influence in this area. Debating, agreeing and translating those features into a shared vision of what modern VET systems should look like may help to focus and uphold VET reform during a difficult period following the economic crisis when resources are limited and tough decisions needed.

For the Cedefop Director, ‘modernising VET will probably always be a work in progress.’ He added: ‘This underlines the case for having a point of reference that sets out the features of modern VET systems. These features should recognise the important role VET plays in both personal and economic goals, of helping directly people and enterprises.’

The members of the EMPL Committee are very focused on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's investment plan. Their concern is social return on investment.

MEP Jutta Steinruck, coordinator of S&D in the EMPL Committee, said that the agencies provide a valuable contribution to European policy. She considers Cedefop and its work in the field of VET to be 'an important tool to combat youth unemployment.' She also believes that MEPs and other policy-makers need to be informed on which skills will be needed in the future.


7.  Answer to written question on Scientific research

Source: European Parliament Register
Subject: Answer to written question on Scientific research
Date published: January 30 2015

Question for written answer E-009943/14 to the Commission Therese Comodini Cachia (PPE)

Subject: Scientific research

In the light of the fact that the EU has set up a challenging target for the number of additional researchers required by the EU by 2020, and that the number of students undertaking some form of post-secondary scientific studies is relatively low in some Member States, can the Commission say whether it will launch any further campaign, action or event in 2015 to encourage students to further their scientific studies?

Answer given by Mr Moedas on behalf of the Commission

The Commission has been supporting science education for more than fifteen years (1) through a number of initiatives and will continue to do so under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), more specifically under the Science with and for Society (SWAFS) work programme (2).

The SWAFS 2014/2015 work programme topic on ‘Innovative ways to make science education and scientific careers attractive to young people’ aims at developing scientific citizenship by promoting innovative pedagogies in science education attracting more young people towards science and addressing the challenges faced by young people in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and innovation.

Under the 2013 Science in Society Revised Work Programme, the Commission had included a Science Education Expert Group (SEEG) to support reflection and the preparation of the new Science Education policy initiatives and policy options within the context of Horizon 2020, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and the European Research Area (ERA). The report ‘Science education for responsible citizenship’ has now been delivered. It identifies six key objectives (3) and associated recommendations at EU and national levels. Based on it, specific actions aimed at raising students' awareness and interest in scientific studies and careers will be included in the upcoming SWAFS work programmes.

Also, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (4) fund the annual European Researchers' Night (5), a Europe-wide event that brings researchers together with the general public on the fourth Friday of every September. A key aim is to attract young people to science by presenting it to a mass audience in accessible and appealing ways.

1. Under the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP6, 2002-2006 and FP7, 2007-2013) under the Science and Society and Society Programmes.


3. The six objectives identified by the Science Education Expert Group are:

a)    Science education should be an essential component of a learning continuum for all, from pre-school to active engaged citizenship.

b)    Science education should focus on competences with an emphasis on learning through science, and shifting from STEM (Skills in science, technology, engineering and maths) to STEAM (Skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) by linking science with other subjects and disciplines.

c)    The quality of teaching, teacher induction, pre-service preparation and in-service professional development should be enhanced to improve the depth and quality of learning outcomes.

d)    4. Collaboration between formal, non-formal and informal educational providers, enterprise, industry and civil society should be enhanced to ensure relevant and meaningful engagement of all societal actors with science, and increase uptake of science studies and science-based careers.

e)    5. Greater attention should be given to promoting responsible research and innovation and enhancing public understanding of scientific findings, and the capabilities to discuss their benefits and consequences.

f)    6. Emphasis should be placed on connecting innovation and science education strategies, at local, regional, national, European and international levels, taking into account societal needs and global developments.



8. Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success

Source: DG GROW
Subject: Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success
Date published: January 29 2015

A compilation of evidence on the impact of entrepreneurship education strategies and measures

Entrepreneurship education is given a significant role in supporting the main goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. Therefore, it is important to gather knowledge and evidence from across Europe and elsewhere that shows whether and how impact is achieved. 

In 2013 DG Enterprise and Industry commissioned ICF International to conduct a mapping exercise of examples of research on the impact of Entrepreneurial Education. This report presents the outcome of the mapping exercise: 91 studies from 23 countries were identified.
The prevailing impression that emerged from the evidence collected is that entrepreneurship education works. Students participating in entrepreneurship education are more likely to start their own business and their companies tend to be more innovative and more successful than those led by persons without entrepreneurship education backgrounds. Entrepreneurship education alumni are at lower risk of being unemployed, and are more often in steady employment. Compared to their peers, they have better jobs and make more money.
The positive impact is not restricted to students and alumni. Besides impact on the individual, evidence from the examples reviewed for this study also shows impact on educational institutions, the economy and society.

Documents & links
Final report - Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success  (2 MB)
Case studies - Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success  (2MB)


9. Revised ECTS Users' Guide was endorsed by the BFUG

The revised ECTS Users’ Guide was endorsed by the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) during its meeting on 27-28 November 2014 in Rome and now it is subject to approval by the Ministerial Conference in May 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia.

Following the request from Bologna Ministers in Bucharest in 2012, the ECTS Users’ Guide of 2009 has been revised, in order to strengthen the “meaningful implementation of learning outcomes” in the EHEA. The Guide takes forward the objective of Ministers to “call on institutions to further link study credits with both learning outcomes and student workload and to include the attainment of learning outcomes in assessment procedures”.

The revised version is based on a solid foundation of work done in recent years, both within the Bologna Process and in individual countries, to help the academic community and other stakeholders in higher education to move in the direction of the changes advocated by the Bologna Process.

For the revised Guide, please click here.

July - December 2014

1. 3rd European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit: call for contributions is open


2. European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programmes (October 2014, endorsed by the BFUG, subject to approval by EHEA ministers)


3. Briefing note “The validation challenge: how close is Europe to recognising all learning?”


4. Seminar in the European Parliament on December 11 on transferable elements from various validation systems in Europe


5. Recognition of skills gained outside school or university is still a challenging road to take, report revealed


6. New EUA report on rankings - 'Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: Impact or Illusion?'


7. Presentation of the Policy Department B study on "Higher Education Entrance Qualifications and Exams in Europe: a Comparison" by Mr Niccolo Durazzi (LSE Enterprise) and Ms Cecile Hoareau McGrath (Rand Europe)

Documents: Study

8. New EUA report on rankings - 'Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: Impact or Illusion?


9. EU/Switzerland relations - Erasmus +

Source: European Parliament Register
Subject: Answer to written question on EU/Switzerland relations - Erasmus +
Date published: October 28 2014

Question for written answer E-006384/2014 to the Commission Rule 130 Sophie Montel (NI)

On 9 February 2014 the popular initiative 'Against mass immigration' was democratically adopted by a majority of the people of Switzerland. Since the vote on this, relations between the EU and Switzerland have taken a marked downturn.

After the country added a new article to its Constitution aimed at restricting immigration by determining ceilings for the number of foreigners trying to enter Swiss territory, it asked to be able to renegotiate the treaty on free movement with the EU. On 24 July this request was turned down by Brussels. In addition, Switzerland was excluded from the ERASMUS + programme, a decision which results in severely penalising European students, who will be less able to attend the excellent Swiss universities and high-quality training courses on offer (reduction of 25 % according to the Foundation for Federal Cooperation). This retaliatory measure against Switzerland will in fact penalise our students, particularly as high-quality training is known to facilitate the search for employment. How does the Commission intend to address this problem?

Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission

The Swiss popular vote of 9 February 2014 in favour of changing Switzerland's system of immigration called into question the principle of free movement of persons between the EU and Switzerland.

As a consequence, the Swiss Federal Council was not in a position to sign the Protocol extending the EU-Swiss agreement on the free movement of persons to Croatia, which joined the Union on 1 July 2013 as new Member State. Member States had made the conclusion of negotiations on Swiss participation in Erasmus+ dependent on the conclusion of the Protocol.  The suspension of negotiations was therefore not a punishment, but the logical consequence of the Swiss decision not to sign it.

In the period between 2011 and 2013 Switzerland fully participated in the Lifelong Learning Programme, the predecessor of Erasmus+, hosting some 4000 EU students and sending some 3000 Swiss students annually, compared to the total average of around 250 000 students. Following the suspension of negotiations for participation in Erasmus+, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and the Swiss National Agency have drawn up a transitional solution for 2014, along the lines of Switzerland's indirect participation before 2011.

Thus, pending a full resolution of the problem, Switzerland enjoys the same status as other partner countries within Erasmus+, e.g. Swiss students are entitled to participate in Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, a high-level integrated international study programme delivered by international consortia of higher education institutions.

Switzerland's full participation can be resumed once the legal obstacles are removed and a bilateral Erasmus+ agreement is concluded.

10. Fees and grants for students widely differ across Europe


11. Erasmus Impact Study confirms EU student exchange scheme boosts employability and job mobility


12. Nomination of the new Commissioner and upcoming European Parliament hearing


13. Commission says OECD findings confirm importance of investment in education for EU growth and jobs

14. STREAM project survey on European good practice and training platform in recognition


15. Contribute to researching the impact of MOOCs on career development


March - June 2014

1. EESC’s opinion on “Quality framework for traineeships”:

2. European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning: EUCIS-LLL Manifesto “Building together the future of learning”:

3. “Valorizing human investment: training, mobility, employment in Europe”:

4. “TTIP 'threatens' European education quality”, teachers say:

5. European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education: HE stakeholder organisations present proposal for revised “Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG): February_2014.pdf

6. Erasmus+ programme - “Prolongation of deadline for submission of applications”:

7. Survey on the breadth and depth of internationalization of higher education across Europe. This comprehensive study, entitled “The EAIE Barometer: Internationalization in Europe”:

9. “New digital opportunities to ensure high quality education”:

10. “EUCIS-LLL contribution to consultation on the European Area of Skills and Qualifications”:

11. Official launch of the U-Multirank:

12. European Higher Education Area - Bologna Process “Towards a European Area of Skills and Qualifications”: 547

13. “Conclusions on quality assurance supporting education and training” on:

January - March 2014

1. "Revising Education and Training 2020":

2. “Recognition of Professional Qualifications” – the new Directive:

3. Stakeholder consultation on “Quality Framework for Traineeships”:

4. Information on ERASMUS+ Program to ENAEE and SEFI (incl. R.BRANDI):

5. “Council conclusions on effective leadership in Education”:

October - December 2013

1. Call for Papers : EUA Council for Doctoral Education on 23/10:

2. EURASHE Seminar on the implementation of Internal and External Quality Assurance:

3. EUA – Making Sense of the MOOCs Report from ACA-EUA Seminar in Brussels:

4. Rethinking Education:

5. ERASMUS+ New opportunities for cooperation in higher education with partners from the Eastern Partnership region:

6. RAPID: What future do you want ? Commission invites votes on what Europe could look like in 2050 to help steer future policy and research planning:

7. Global dimension of European higher education:

8. The structure of the European Education Systems 2013-2014:

9. Many positive achievements for students in ERASMUS+ (20/11):

10. ERASMUS+ Guide published : EUR 1,8 billion in funding available in 2014 (12/12):

11. ECTS and Diploma Supplement Labels 2007-2013 (18/12):