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Pilot call for a European joint degree label and institutionalised EU cooperation instruments

The European Commission launched on 15 June 2022, under the Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 3, European policy experimentation in higher education, a much-anticipated pilot call with two lots. The first is for testing a list of proposed criteria – 11 mandatory and nine optional ones – for a joint European degree label. The second is for testing institutionalised EU cooperation instruments, including a potential European legal status for university alliances.

Both initiatives were previously announced as flagships of the European Strategy for Universities, formally launched in January this year, and were endorsed by members states through the Council Conclusions on a European strategy empowering higher education institutions for the future of Europe and the Council Recommendation on building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation, both published on 5 April. In the latter policy document, Member States also mandated the European Commission to pilot the two initiatives and then report back on the results to the Council, that shall decide on any further steps.

With a total budget of EUR 2 million, the call foresees a maximum grant amount per project of EUR 200 000, meant to cover 80% of foreseen costs (co-financing of 20%), for a one-year duration. It requires applicant consortia to be formed of a minimum of two higher education institutions holding a valid Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE), from a minimum of two EU Member States and third countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme. The involvement of the relevant national, regional and/or HEI authorities is strongly encouraged under both lots. The application deadline is 6 October 2022, 17:00 CEST.

A related online information session for potential applicants was held on 28 June. Further information can also be found on the European Commission’s Funding & Tenders Portal and in the call document.

The results of the pilots are due in early 2024, at which point the Council is to decide on the follow-up activities. In the meantime, the results of the feasibility study on the European joint degree, commissioned in 2021 and involving inter alia two stakeholder workshops and expert interviews, are expected to be published in the coming weeks.