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In the first half of this year, Ireland will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, taking over from Cyprus. It is already the seventh time that Ireland takes on this task. Ensuring sustainable growth and jobs is the overall aim of the Irish Presidency. Education is to support this effort. Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, said that he was “determined to work towards preventing the development of a lost generation with negative long-term personal and social consequences that would have for all Europeans.” In line with this, the ‘social dimension’ of higher education and improved access to higher education, especially for students from less privileged backgrounds and non-traditional learners, will be a key concern for the Irish Presidency. Ireland will work towards achieving the EU headline target of a 40% tertiary graduation rate among the 30-34 year-olds by 2020.
On the legislative front, Ireland aims to finish the work on Erasmus for all, with the respective Regulation. It also aims for a decision on the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and technology (EIT), a Regulation on the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (with a focus on youth), and a new Directive on the recognition of professional education.