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European Union Education and Training Programmes with "Third Countries"


February 2000 - July 2000


Universität Konstanz


In 2000, ACA carried out a study for DG Education and Culture on the European Union's programmes in education and training with "third countries". The study, named "The Globalisation of Education and Training: Recommendations for a Coherent Response of the European Union", was intended to support the Commission in formulating a coherent overall policy for educational cooperation with countries outside the Union, and mainly in Asia, Oceania and the Americas. In line with articles 149 and 150 of the Amsterdam Treaty, the study explores how the Union can use external cooperation to sustain and improve the quality of education in the Union itself.

The study presents an overview of Community education and training programmes with non-European countries ("third countries"), and based on this overview, analyses the main trends of past and present EU "third country" cooperation. Finally, the Commission is given a set of recommendations for a reformulation of its "third country" cooperation policy, with particular regard to the aim of strengthening education and training inside the European Union.

The study was carried out by Dr. Sybille Reichert (Universität Konstanz) and ACA Director Bernd Wächter between February and July 2000. It was found that, by any measure, EU cooperation with non-European partner countries is still of small size. In terms of activity types, the programmes predominantly supported the mobility of persons, and neglected structural cooperation. Most important, perhaps, very many schemes do not reflect the experience gained with the intra-Community programmes (Socrates, Leonardo), especially with regard to the latters' multilateral network structure.

Based on an outline of the state-of-the-art in international higher education, the study made two main recommendations, namely 

  • that future EU "third country" programme policy should favour a concentration of effort, should target more specifically educationally strong countries (from which system innovation could be "imported"), should replace the dominance of exchange-of-people's measures by a heightened regard for structural cooperation, and should make more use than is now the case of a multilateral network design;
  • that, when it comes to a strengthening of the quality of education and training inside the Union, the solution cannot only be cooperation programmes. Rather, European higher education needs to make itself more attractive to students and faculty from outside of Europe, through measures of European-level quality assurance and accreditation, through improved services, and through determined measures in the fields of information and marketing.