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European Commission releases long-anticipated Communication on internationalisation of higher education

The European Commission released the long-anticipated Communication on the internationalisation of higher education, entitled European Higher Education in the World, on 11 July 2013. As revealed earlier in the ACA Newsletter May edition, the Communication encourages the European Union’s member states and higher education institutions (HEIs) to develop comprehensive internationalisation strategies. Such strategies, according to the Communication, should embrace student and staff mobility, internationalisation of curricula and strategic academic partnerships as integrated elements.

On the EU level, funding incentives and policy support, through the EU’s new Erasmus+ Programme (formerly known as Erasmus for All) within the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020, are promised in support of the new policy direction.  

Specifically on funding, the Commission pledges to: 

  • provide increased financial support for mobility to and from non-EU countries, reaching up to 135 000 learners and staff; and allow  up  to 15 000  non-EU  researchers  to  start  or  pursue  their  careers  in  Europe through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) in Horizon 2020;    
  • support  international  HEI  consortia to develop joint master and doctoral degrees through Erasmus+ and MSCA respectively, and provide high-level scholarships for up to 60 000 graduates to take part;
  • support strategic partnerships for cooperation and innovation, including up to 1 000 capacity-building partnerships between EU and non-EU HEIs.
It will also continue to fund on-going initiatives to increase the transparency and attractiveness of European higher education, such as the U-Multirank project, various higher education portals and alumni networking initiatives. In terms of policy support, the Communication sees the need to strengthen evidence-based policymaking through research and dialogues with experts. To facilitate cooperation with third countries, it will also continue system-to-system dialogues with policymakers of targeted partner countries (e.g. China, Russia and Brazil). Some attention has also been drawn towards “blended mobility” opportunities arising from recent developments in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and digital learning technology. A specific initiative for the promotion of digital learning and better use of ICT (Information Communication Technology) and OER (Open Educational Resources) in education will be presented in autumn 2013