In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, and while expecting long-lasting effects on international higher education activities, the directors of the Erasmus+ national agencies (NAs) for education and training (many of them ACA members) signed an open letter to the European Commission. The letter, titled Erasmus+ in connection to COVID-19 and released in early April, emphasizes the importance of continued transnational cooperation, particularly in times of crisis, and of solidarity, under the motto #WeStandTogether.
The NA directors put forward suggestions is six main areas, that are to inform the further planning of the Erasmus 2021 – 2027 programme and the MFF negotiations:
- The need for cooperation and mutual learning, as a tool, amongst others, for equipping people with the competencies needed for an economic recovery, and which requires further investing in education and training. The advantage of the Erasmus+ programme is that it offers opportunities for mutual learning between sectors and countries.
- The need to revitalise a European sense of belonging, with Erasmus+ by its very nature offering opportunities to connect people and organisations across Europe.
- The need to learn from new initiatives and experiments in education and training, by tapping into the potential of digitalisation, and adopting blended learning techniques and virtual cooperation models, without compromising on quality. In this respect, Erasmus+ too offers opportunities to bring these experiences together and to create a common body of good practices.
- The need to keep meeting face-to-face, while encouraging the further development of online education and training, while paying special attention to the safety and well-being of participants – something that Erasmus+ is very experienced in, as well.
- The need to make full use of the new openings in the Erasmus+ proposal, and particularly by the new provisions for wider inclusion and more flexibility in the next programme.
- The need to remain in touch with the rest of the world, while cautioning on the dangers of isolation, and with Erasmus+ offering many opportunities for cooperation on a global scale.
The letter is available here.