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New communication on the EIT from the European Commission

Following an extensive consultation with member states and European stakeholders regarding the setting up of a European Institute of Technology (EIT), the European Commission released a new communication early this month. The new communication follows up on the February communication (see the February issue of ACA Newsletter Education Europe) and answers to the European Council’s invitation to submit a proposal on the next steps to be taken. Rather than providing big news, the communication adds further details to the proposal and identifies issues that must be addressed next:

  • The proposed structure and functioning of the EIT and the nature and role of the governing board. According to the communication’s proposal, the EIT would be an autonomous institution with a Governing Board and a strong European identity, the role of which is to identify scientific challenges of potential economic interest in interdisciplinary areas and select and fund Knowledge Communities to address them;
  • the functioning of the Knowledge Communities. The Knowledge Communities represent the operational part of the EIT, and are envisaged as integrated partnerships of excellent teams and departments from universities, business and research sectors; 
  • the status of EIT staff. The communication suggests that a range of options be available (direct employment, secondment, dual affiliation and sabbatical) and that the Knowledge Communities have the freedom to organise their human resources as is most appropriate;
  • the degrees that the EIT should be able to award. The communication states that the EIT should be able to award degrees and diplomas, as this would strengthen its identity and help it gain wide recognition.

What are the next steps? The Commission will continue the consultations with member states and stakeholders over the coming months. A draft legal instrument establishing the EIT will then follow. The target is to adopt this legal instrument in 2008.

The ACA Newsletter Education Europe reported in the April issue that the idea of the EIT received quite some criticism from some European higher education stakeholders. More criticism has been voiced recently with the publication of a report commissioned by the Centre for European Reform (see article in this issue of ACA Newsletter Education Europe).

The EIT: further steps towards its creation
FAQ on the EIT