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Enhanced EU-Australia cooperation in (higher) education

This month, the bilateral cooperation between the European Commission and the Australian government in the field of (higher) education saw new concrete developments. The two parties held on 12th March in Brussels their fourth Policy Dialogue meeting. This series of high-level thematic gatherings was initiated in 2009, in Melbourne, Australia, based on the 2007 Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Education and Training and on the EU-Australia Partnership Framework. The first dialogue resulted in a joint EU-Australia tuning pilot project.

The most recent Brussels dialogue focused on internationalisation in education, with a clear emphasis on international student mobility and more generally on student “well-being”, as well as on quality assurance processes. The two parties shared information on recent developments in their respective regions and informed each other of their approaches on these three interrelated fronts. The European Commission also used this opportunity to duly inform its Australian counterparts about developments in the planning of the new generation of EU education programmes—the Erasmus for All proposal. The discussions were also supported by a select group of higher education experts from both regions, ACA being one of the European representatives invited to contribute to this event. The meeting culminated with the two parties signing a Joint Statement committing themselves, amongst other issues, to “continue to work together to promote and ensure that the reputation and integrity of international education continues to be held in high regard”.

The fourth Policy Dialogue, organised on the European Commission’s side by the Directorate General for Education and Culture, was well complemented earlier in the month by the participation of the Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, in the annual conference of Universities Australia. On this occasion the Commissioner introduced to the Australian audience the Commission’s plans for the Horizon 2020 programme—the likely successor of the 7th Framework Programme—and the potential role of Australia in this new framework.

These cooperation initiatives will be followed later this year by a joint expert seminar in Australia (14-19 October 2012) and next year by a visit by EU Commissioner (for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth) Androulla Vassiliou to Australia, which will host the fifth Policy Dialogue meeting between the two regions, on Quality and Recognition.

EU-Australia fourth Policy Dialogue Joint Statement Press release on Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn