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The 2nd meeting of China–EU High Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) was successfully held in Beijing on 6 September. A delegation from the EU, headed by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, culture, multilingualism and youth, held talks with universities and government representatives from China to discuss issues and suggestions pertaining to EU-China cooperation in education, culture and youth. Particularly on higher education cooperation, the delegates on both sides exchanged frankly their observations of mobility obstacles (especially those relating to visa, funding support, training/internship opportunities, information transparency, credit recognition, trust and quality assurance) that have resulted in mobility imbalances between China and the EU. New initiatives on the Chinese side (e.g. the academic credit reform, recruitment reform and work-study programme recognition) and the EU side (such Erasmus+ programme, U-Multirank and the latest output of the EU–China 'Tuning Initiative') were also communicated and discussed as potential solutions to some of the obstacles named above.
The half-day panel discussion of higher education key stakeholders, led by China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC), turned out to be an open and fruitful exchange. Both sides agreed that more of the kind would be desirable to harmonize new policy initiatives and address practical issues, as well as to clear the path for more balanced exchanges between China and the EU.
Following Beijing, Ms. Vassiliou also visited Mongolia, on September 7–9. Similarly, mobility came high on the agenda. Although 2014 marks the 25th anniversary for bilateral relations of the EU with Mongolia, much remains to be done in higher education cooperation. In the wake of the participation by two Mongolian institutions in projects enhancing the attractiveness of European higher education in the world (Mongolian University of Science and Technology in 'ISEKI' and Mongolian State University of Agriculture in 'AskAsia'), the main challenge remains to promote the so far not-highly-exploited opportunities offered by Erasmus+ and Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions. It was noted that in the period 2004-2013, only 16 Mongolian students and 2 doctoral candidates have been selected to follow an Erasmus Mundus joint master’s or PhD programme and only one Mongolian researcher benefited from a Marie Curie fellowship.
The trip to China and Mongolia was Ms. Vassiliou’s last official trip outside Europe. It celebrated the achievements of the cooperation as well as opened up new opportunities for EU – China and EU – Mongolia collaboration in the future.