Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: The EU Contribution

The EU Social Policies and Consumer Protection Sub-Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the EU’s contribution to the modernisation of higher education in Europe as a response to the Commission’s recent Communication on the subject.  A call for evidence was issued on Tuesday 25 October 2011. The deadline for submissions is Monday 21 November 2011.

The Commission’s Communication was published against the background of the Europe 2020 Strategy , which emphasises supporting growth and jobs, and their proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 , which supports a significant increase in the budget devoted to investment in education, research and innovation. The Commission believes that the potential of European higher education institutions to fulfil their role in society and contribute to Europe’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth remains underexploited: only 26% of the workforce currently has a higher education qualification.

As the Commission acknowledges, the main responsibility for delivering reforms in higher education rests with Member States and higher education institutions themselves. Nevertheless, the EU has a role  in encouraging the work of Member States in boosting mobility, providing funding, encouraging the exchange of best practice and improving analysis. The initiatives outlined by the Commission as the possible EU contribution include:

  • The launch of a new “U-Multirank” performance-based ranking and information tool for profiling higher education institutions;
  • Analysis of the impact of different funding approaches on the diversification, and efficiency of higher education systems, as well as on student mobility;
  • A proposal for a European Masters level student loan guarantee facility;
  • A strengthening of synergies between EU and intergovernmental processes (mainly the Bologna Process/European Higher Education Area)
  • Support for the internationalisation of higher education;
  • The placing of higher education at the centre of innovation, job creation and employability in various ways; and
  • A strengthening of the long-term impact and complementarity of EU funding.

The Sub-Committee wishes, through its inquiry, to establish whether the initiatives outlined by the Commission are the most appropriate to fulfil its supportive role in higher education or whether there are other ways in which the EU might add value in this area.


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