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At the second and final EU Council of Education Ministers under the Irish Presidency on 16-17 May 2013, Europe’s Education Ministers gave their approval to the Conclusions on the social dimension of higher education.
The discussions focussed on the topic of increased access to higher education. The adopted Conclusions comply with the Europe 2020 strategy (in particular the target of increasing the share of 30-34 year olds having completed tertiary education to 40%) and the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020).
The ministers stressed the importance of securing more equitable access to higher education given that many capable individuals are still not partcipating for social, cultural or economic reasons or due to insufficient support and guidance. To this end, they have issued a series of recommendations for the European Commission and the member states, such as the delivery of a study on policies related to access and drop-out rates, the adoption of national objectives with regard to increasing access to higher education and the development of proactive strategies at an institutional level (e.g. guidance on course choice, information on employment opportunities, peer mentoring etc.).