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Brussels hosts 2nd EU-US Education Policy Forum

On 11 October 2010, representatives from the European Commission and the US Department of Education, in addition to a number of prominent experts from the academic and non-governmental communities, gathered in Brussels for the second annual EU-US Education Policy Forum. The meeting was co-chaired by the Director General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, Mr. Jan Truszczyński, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education of the US Department of Education, Mr. Andre Lewis.

A key theme emerging from the meeting of European and American delegates was the commonality of challenges facing the US and EU, particularly in the areas of professional development for teachers and anticipation of future skills needs. Among the follow-up actions resulting from this session, several new projects and joint initiatives were agreed upon, to be launched in 2010 and 2011. These include a joint EU-US Tuning project; a joint comprehensive study comparing higher education credit systems in the EU and the US; and another joint comprehensive study exploring the relevance and responsiveness of the European and US education systems to labour market skills needs. The year 2011 should also see preparations for a study on university-business cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic. The third EU-US Education Policy Forum will be hosted in 2011 by the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis, Indiana (United States). The focus for that meeting will be “the 21st-century student, including low-income, minority, adult learner, and other underrepresented groups’ access to higher education and qualifications frameworks and student learning”.

Both the tenor of this gathering, and such concrete examples as a “record budget” (a combined total of nearly EUR 12 million in 2010) for flagship initiatives such as the Atlantis programme, point to a healthy transatlantic relationship at the moment. It will be most interesting to observe how the various joint projects articulated this month develop over time, what substantive findings they produce, and how the EU-US education policy agenda evolves on the basis of this kind of ongoing engagement.

European Commission, EU-US Education Policy Dialogue