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European Education Area – quo vadis?

The European Commission recently published a report on Progress towards the achievement of the European Education Area: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, to take stock of advancements made on the European Education Area (EEA). The report examines key actions, governance, investment and mobilisation of EU funds, EU-level indicators, and actions until 2025.

The 2022 Education and Training Monitor is part of the EEA progress report package, feeding into a midterm review process in 2023 and paving the way for the full report on the EEA in 2025. The Monitor specifically tracks progress towards achieving the EU-level targets, including the new EU-level indicator domain on equity in education. The main findings are as follows:

  • Eight out of 40 EU-level actions planned under the EEA were already launched by the Commission and some of them adopted by the Council, including the European Strategy for Universities, the Council recommendation on building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation, the European approach to microcredentials for lifelong learning and employability, and Learning for the green transition and sustainable development.
  • Progress was made in strengthening the EEA strategic framework governance, through the High Level Group on Education and Training and strategic framework working groups.
  • Trends towards EU-level targets show a mixed picture for higher education, as the share of young people with tertiary level diplomas goes up, whilst socio-economic background remains the most important predictor of education outcomes.
  • EU funds contribute to empowering universities to become drivers of change in line with EEA objectives, and are expected to further accelerate and consolidate the higher education sector’s transformation based on synergies with the European Research Area (ERA).
  • Under Erasmus+, new opportunities are open for participants from Ukraine, including study and traineeship opportunities for students and teaching mobility and training for staff.

The Commission is preparing the six remaining strategic EEA initiatives to be adopted by 2025:

  • European learning mobility framework, to promote transnational learning mobility at all levels, identify remaining barriers and provide guidance on how to overcome them.
  • European Quality Assurance and Recognition System, to review current quality assurance and recognition arrangements and ensure that they are fit for purpose.
  • Higher education Joint European degree label, to attest learning outcomes achieved and skills developed from joint European programmes (see for background details ACA Newsletter Education Europe – June 2022).
  • Possible legal status for alliances of higher education institutions, to pilot a programme involving more in-depth cooperation to allow the sharing of human, technical, data, education, and research and innovation capacities.
  • Enabling factors for digital education, to support the digital transformation of education and training systems, and improving the provision of digital skills in education and training.

Furthermore, the Commission will work towards setting up new indicators under a European Higher Education Sector Observatory, including a scoreboard, so as to provide evidence on the progress made in implementing the European Strategy for Universities. The observatory will combine current EU data tools to provide evidence and indicators on key priorities such as inclusion, values, quality and relevance, mobility, green and digital skills, employability, transnational cooperation, technology transfer and knowledge valorisation.