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Italian Presidency semester: priorities in education

International mobility seems to be on top of the EU member states’ agenda for education during the current semester. This was announced on 3-4 September, when the Italian Presidency-in-Office of the Council of the European Union presented for the first time its semester priorities at the Culture and Education Committee (CULT) of the European Parliament. As the Italian Minister of education, universities and research Stefania Giannini declared, investment in education is seen as a crucial factor to promote growth in Europe. In particular, the three top priorities which the Italians chose to highlight as key measures for growth are:

  • strengthening and developing dual education and training systems (with emphasis on vocational training, lifelong learning and teacher training);
  • making better, more flexible use of funds from the new Erasmus+ programme in order to support international mobility;
  • stepping up support for higher education, notably doctoral studies.

The commitment of the Italian Presidency is particularly important at a time of delicate transitions: politically, towards a new Commission establishment, and budgetary-wise with the review of the Horizon 2020 Strategy. Having a strong leadership for the 28 member states, recognizing the importance of investing in education and research, is crucial also in a situation where the public spending in education decreased from 2000 to 2011 in most of the member states, according to a European Commission study

Ms. Giannini additionally showed a particular interest and personal experience in the field of international higher education: since 2004 she has been rector of  the University for Foreigners in Perugia, and in 2008 she received an honorary degree by the College Reges-Rede Gonzaga De Ensino Superior (Brazil) for her efforts in the development of international cooperation programs.  According to her agenda, the Italian Presidency intends to initiate a dialogue on “how the new Erasmus+ Programme could be better used in order to enhance international cooperation among higher education institutions and further promote student mobility programmes”.

European Parliament