Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list
The seminar Making a difference - Partnerships in Education, held in Brussels 10 June, provided a platform for sharing achievements, learning outcomes and transferring best practices of the EEA and Norway Grants-Scholarships, emerging in the programme over the last years. The EEA and Norway Grants aim to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor and beneficiary countries, where the Scholarship programme seeks to remove obstacles to educational mobility, support students to acquire new skills and strengthen future employability. Organised by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU), together with the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS) and the Liechtenstein National Agency for International Education Affairs (AIBA), the event brought together stakeholders from higher education, the EU Commission and project leaders representing donor and beneficiary counties - to take a retrospective look at the present period and lead engaged discussions on future directions for the upcoming generation of the programme.
At the seminar, the 11 beneficiary countries presented their programmes and shared results of the partnering efforts, international cooperation, and exchanges between higher education institutions. Projects were all approaching or exceeding targets, exchanges took place at all levels, Bachelor, Master, PhD and staff - with very positive results on outgoing staff and student mobility, although the incoming number of students from donor countries still lacking behind. Much has been achieved, and especially the many cooperation projects on all levels lay the foundations for future cooperation. In all there are 800 projects, many on secondary school level and VET, and 2000 mobilities. 150 Donor state institutions and 350 institutions from Beneficiary states have been involved. Discussions emphasized the value of going beyond ‘Grants’ to forge closer ties, long lasting bilateral relations and importantly mutual learning and benefits, being at the heart of the research and scholarships programme. Grants were viewed as a clear compliment to EU level initiatives, such as Erasmus+, but to also offer a springboard for new initiatives, flexibility and innovation in project approaches.
Looking forward the draft ‘Blue Book’, outlining priorities and programme areas for the period 2014-2021, is open for public consultation until 8 July and once MOU’s are signed, the new programme-work can commence. The revised name of the programme area “Education, Scholarships, Apprenticeships and Youth Entrepreneurship”, now reflects added policy concerns and a need to focus on specific challenges. New areas of support include issues as enhancing quality and relevance of education at all levels, promotion of skills for job potential, sharing innovative solutions for inspiring young people to study. An opening up for cooperation with other EEA countries beyond the donor/beneficiary framework, and a move to combining different areas of the programme will be contained in the new period. After 20 years, the programme draws to a close in Spain.
Raising the value of VET, smooth and reduced bureaucratic functioning of the programme to support a focus on goals, extend partnerships beyond the education sector, a call for more innovation in education, research that links to the world - were topics seen as central to achieving institutions of the future.