New Lords Inquiry into the EU's contribution to the modernisation of higher education in Europe

25 October 2011

The House of Lords Social Policies and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee today invited submissions to its new inquiry, which will investigate how the EU can boost mobility, provide funding and exchange best practice across Europe’s higher education sector.

Currently, only 26% of the workforce in Europe has a higher education qualification. On 20 September 2011, the European Commission published a Communication  outlining how the higher education system can be modernised against the backdrop of the economic difficulties being experienced across Europe. The Commission believes that higher education institutions could do much more in contributing to European prosperity and society.

The Committee will examine a range of matters including:

  • how the EU can help higher education to boost EU jobs, growth and innovation;
  • whether the proposed EU financing arrangements for higher education, under the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), are effective; and
  • how the mobility of both students and researchers can be boosted across the EU, including achieving more diverse enrolment onto the Erasmus programme.

Committee Chairman, Baroness Young of Hornsey, said:

"This is a financially challenging time for higher education institutions across Europe and it is important to acknowledge the wider benefits that accrue to society and business from their activities.

"Higher education has a key role to play in boosting jobs, growth and innovation – as set out in the Europe 2020 objectives. Although individual countries are responsible for their own education policy, the EU has a role in encouraging all Member States to boost mobility, provide funding and exchange best practice. The EU is already a partner organisation in the Bologna Process  and has indicated their commitment to higher education through their recent proposals for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, including substantial rises for education, training and youth and research.

"The Committee intend to use this inquiry to explore how the EU can achieve the Europe 2020 objectives most effectively and we would encourage anyone who has an interest to contribute to this debate."

Evidence collected during the inquiry will be used to respond to the Commission’s recent Communication and to inform wider work on the future EU budget.

Image: iStockphoto

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