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On 12 July, the European Commission presented its eagerly awaited proposal for the next phase of the Erasmus Mundus Programme. The current programme covers the five-year period from 2004 to 2008. The next phase will span the time from 2009 to 2013. The Commission's proposal is the starting point of a complex decision-making procedure, involving the European Parliament and the Council as main actors and expected to be brought to a close in late 2008.
The overall budgetary envelope for the five-year period is about EUR 950 million. The new Erasmus Mundus Programme will have three “actions”, i.e. “joint programmes," “partnerships with higher education institutions in third countries,” and measures to enhance the attractiveness of European higher education world-wide. Even though this is one “action” less than in the old programme, the new Erasmus Mundus will offer more opportunities than its predecessor.
Action 1 (essentially comprising the old actions 1 and 2) will not only provide funding for joint Master, as in the past, but also for joint Ph.D. programmes. Scholarships for study in these Master and Doctoral programmes will not only be available for non-European students (‘third-country’), as is the case today, but also to students from Europe.
Action 2 further contains new possibilities and also marks a partial refocusing of Erasmus Mundus. The emphasis of the first phase of the programme was mainly on attracting talent to Europe, giving the programme a slightly ‘egoistical’ philosophy. This orientation persists in Action 1 of the new programme, but it is balanced by an ‘altruistic’ approach in Action 2, which supports partnerships between higher education institutions in Europe and elsewhere in the world, and which explicitly aims at capacity building and sustainability in other world regions, and at the avoidance of brain drain. In this action, mobility scholarships into and out of Europe for a wide range of students (from undergraduate to post-doctoral level) and staff/faculty participants are being provided.
Action 3 roughly corresponds to the old Action 4, and offers funding for a diverse set of ‘accompanying’ measures, such as conferences and seminars as well as studies and analyses.
ACA is pleased to note that the European Commission makes use of ACA studies, such as Perceptions of European Higher Education in Third Countries, and EURODATA, when elaborating on the need for the new programme. The results of ACA studies already figured prominently in the proposal for the first phase of Erasmus Mundus.