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New proposal for making the EU more attractive for foreign students and researchers

On 25 March 2013, the Commission proposed to make it easier for foreign students and researchers to enter and stay in Europe for periods exceeding three months.

"Knowledge is power, as the saying goes: it is vital that we attract the brightest and best researchers and students because they contribute to a successful knowledge economy in the EU," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

But moving to Europe is still a challenge for many students and researchers, who have to face unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles in order to obtain a student visa or a residence permit. Long and complex procedures, varying from member state to member state, represent major obstacles to attracting new talent to the EU. As Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, puts it, “coming to the EU for research or study is far more difficult than it should be. We have to remove these obstacles to make the EU more open to talents. Such mobility benefits the EU and our economy through the circulation of knowledge and ideas.”

The Commission’s proposal aims at setting clearer, more consistent and transparent rules across the EU. To do so, the two current directives on students and researchers will be replaced by a single new one, improving:

  • procedural guarantees;
  • intra-EU mobility and transfer of skills and knowledge;
  • access to the labour market, and
  • overall protection of additional groups of non-EU nationals.

The directive now needs to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The new rules are expected to take effect as of 2016.

Regarding immigration of international students to the EU, a synthesis report on the EMN Study for 2012 was published by the European Migration Network, providing an overview on the immigration and mobility policies currently implemented by member states.

EUROPA Press release


Link to the proposal