College of Europe
European Parliament
© Eeki 2003

Results of the Project

The main pillars influencing the European dimension in education:

Pillar 1: Universities and the European dimension in education
While during the Middle Ages the principle of “peregrinatio academica”, i.e. mobility of students and scholars, a common language of instruction and mutual recognition of studies were the key features of universities education, in the 18th and 19th century education developed to a key factor in nation-building, and set limits to mobility. Even though these borders were partly disappearing after the Second World War, it was only in the 1980 that with the introduction of the Erasmus programme universities started to develop again more links to other European universities and began to develop internationalisation policies. In the last few years the trend towards new fields such as accreditation and quality assurance, also caused by the Bologna process, led to increased competition of universities on a European scale and will improve also the competitiveness of Europe on a global market. But still inside Europe we encounter obstacles to mobility and deficits in promoting a European dimension in education. Therefore we recommend:
• universities should not exclude themselves from the current developments and foster the introduction of the ECTS system in all fields of studies
• universities should not focus only on their competitiveness, but profit from exchange of experience and examples of good practice

Pillar 2: Governmental Institutions on European, national and sub-national levels and the European dimension in education
We witness that on a national and especially on a sub-national level of government, tendencies to harmonisation of education are still seen as a threat to cultural diversity. Nevertheless the Bologna process as an intergovernmental process is heading in the direction of creating a common European Higher Education Area, but this seems to be caused by external pressures to increase competitiveness, not by the intrinsic will to introduce a European dimension in education in order to foster the creation of a European identity. Also the European Commission has put more focus on the human capital approach in the last years.
Besides, we can observe in several countries that national legislation includes obstacles to student mobility.
Therefore our recommendations are:
• Intergovernmental and Community policies in education should underline more the importance of educating students in a holistic way and creating active citizens, not just creating a mobile workforce
• National immigration laws should not set hurdles to student mobility
• Every citizen should have the right and the possibilities to access higher education, even in foreign countries, therefore of system of loan-type subsidies should be accessible for all students in Europe Participants discussing in a
Workshop during the conference in Kraków.

Pillar 3: The Private Sector and the European dimension in education
We witness that with the focus on the competitiveness of higher education, the question of the creation of a European Education Market is raised and that there is a tendency to treat education as a commodity, especially within the negotiations on GATS. More influence from the private sector, especially by companies operating on a European scale, can enhance quality of education and ensure a better preparation of students for mobility in their professional life.
We recommend that:
• Universities should become more entrepreneurial and seek cooperation with the
private sector
• Accessibility of education to all social classes should be ensured
• The influence of the private sector should not influence the academic freedom of

Pillar 4: Media/ICT and the European dimension in education
Since there are new trends in education towards virtual universities and e-learning, education is more and more internationalised. Also in informal settings of education, virtual media become more and more important. But even though the information available on the internet about Europe is abundant, the general knowledge about Europe in the broad population is low. Therefore we recommend:
• Students of all ages should be introduced to new sources of information in formal
education and should be familiarized to virtual learning in all stages of education

Pillar 5: Non-Governmental Organisations and the European dimension in education
NGOs, especially European ones, can promote a European dimension in non-formal education settings as they contribute to forming active citizens and foster social and organisational skills in young people. At the same time they can they operate below the level of political decision processes, they influence the political system because they change the normative framework of political decisions and the perception of political institutions by the citizens. Therefore we recommend that:
• A framework of recognition of non-formal education through participation in NGOs should be found
• Governmental Institutions should be open to the input of NGOs, especially through
consultation processes in policy fields where young people are concerned

Evaluation of a selection of current education programmes


Since its creation, Erasmus has changed immensely the landscape of higher education in Europe. By now 1 Million students had the chance to participate in an exchange and discover another culture and country, a high percentage has been satisfied with this experience, in the context of Socrates universities started to implement internationalisation policies, just to name of few of the well-known benefits of this programme.
But of the other hand we see certain deficits:
• Lack of interest in the programme (in some countries not all places are filled)
• Negative image of the academic level of studies
• Lack of integration of Erasmus students in the local student community
• Language problems due to insufficient linguistic preparation
• Obstacles to participation due to financial problems
• Lack of transparency of information mainly in Eastern Europe
• Length of the exchange prevents certain groups of society from participating

Therefore we have a series of recommendations for improvement in the future:
- Information campaign should be conducted permanently based on regional strategies:
• In Eastern Europe the focus should be laid on facilitating information and avoiding preferential treatment of certain groups of students
• In Western Europe the focus should be laid on general promotion and information about study programmes in Eastern Europe
- The academic quality can be improved in the following ways:
• Stronger academic guidance
• Focus on implementation of ECTS
- Integration of Erasmus students should be fostered in the following ways:
• Local Erasmus groups / student associations should carry out orientation weeks financed by the hosting universities
• Erasmus students could be prepared already at their home universities in “outgoing seminars” as well as they could exchange experiences in “return seminars”
- The language problem could be faced in the following way:
• Hosting universities could offer a certain amount of courses in English or other major languages
• Every student should have the right to attend a language course that enables him/her to follow the academic programme
- Financial obstacles could be overcome through:
• Increasing the funding of the programme in general
• Increasing the minimum amount of mobility grants
• Setting up schemes of cooperation with the private sector
- Groups excluded from participating should experience the impacts of the Erasmus programme:
• Teaching staff mobility should increase in order to see “Erasmus at home”
• Short term exchanges and virtual exchanges could be innovations

We consider essential to familiarize already school students at an early age with the European dimension in education and therefore see the Comenius programme as a valuable contribution to fostering European citizenship, especially due to the fact that exchange at an early age increase mobility also in later stages of life.
Still we recommend that:
• The programme should be promoted more in the broad population
• There could be an offer for individual exchanges with a longer duration as sort of “Junior Erasmus”
• More interaction between Erasmus and Comenius, especially for promotion should be fostered

For these programmes we recommend the following:
• Results should be disseminated to a broader public
• Synergies could be exploited better, especially through the use of ICT in adult education and language learning

We consider the youth programme a valuable contribution to enhancing the European dimension in non-formal education. It gives young people the chance to broaden their horizons and develop their sense of initiative through projects at home or abroad. It provides structured European cooperation between youth organisations, youth workers, project organisers etc and fosters mobility in non-formal settings.
Still we see need for improvement in the following aspects:
• The administrative burden should be reduced as well as delays in financing
• Application to the programme should become more user-friendly
• Stronger focus on some actions could increase efficiency of the programme

The influence of education programmes on Enlargement and education in candidate countries

The influence education programmes have had on education systems in Central and Eastern Europe is often ignored, especially due to the fact that enlargement is seen mainly in economical terms. In general it can be said that exchanges in the frame of education programmes helped to reduce prejudice on both sides and motivated the youth towards the creation of a common Europe.
Analysing the role they have played, we see a three-fold impact:
• Political impact: The national education systems have been reformed and consequently the negotiation chapter on education could be closed in early stages. Furthermore the programmes prepared civil servants to work with the EU.
• Academic impact: Education programmes boosted development in higher education such as the introduction of new studies, new faculties and Jean Monnet Chairs
• Social and cultural impact: Next to the linguistic dimension of promoting languages of candidate countries in the EU, the image of future neighbour countries as well as the attitude towards Eastern Europe could be improved through participation in exchanges. Furthermore mobility enabled young people who otherwise would not have had the possibility to leave their home country to see other cultures “at their home”.

Therefore we demand that:
Education programmes should be implemented with special focus on exchanges between EU and candidate countries, also for future rounds of enlargement.

AEGEE´s proposal for the next generation of education programmes

General recommendations
• We recommend that the next generation of education programmes should be structured in a way that elements of the current programme are regrouped according to the stages of life a person, for instance setting up a programme for students in higher education combining aspects of formal education, vocational training, language learning, non-formal education etc
• We suggest that mobility has to start in the earliest ages possible in order to enhance understanding and prevent prejudices
• Education programme should target EU, EEA and candidate countries as well as third countries, but focus should be laid on exchange between the former ones in order to increase intra-European links
• Flexibility should be ensured in all programmes, especially through facilitating the implementation of pilot projects
• We consider the role of National Agencies in the administration crucial in order to adjust the programme to the individual needs of each programme country.

A proposal for a new action

In order to complement the current programmes, we propose to include in the next generation of education programmes a form of “Blended Learning”, combining aspects of presence learning and e-learning/distance learning for merging physical mobility with virtual mobility.

A possible set -up of Blended Learning:
• Courses in various subjects would start with an introduction during SUMMER COURSES
• The courses would be continued afterwards in virtual settings, i.e. involving methods of E- LEARNING like virtual classrooms
• Participants from different European universities would virtually work together on projects and assignments in cross-cultural groups
• Courses should be conducted in English and/or language of host country (especially languages/culture courses)
• After successful completion of the subject, students could obtain (optional) credits according to ECTS

For the administration we would suggest:
• a common database of available summer/e-courses in different fields of studies
• a centralised selection procedure
• a mobility grant to be available for travel costs and the course fee at a low level

Benefits of this proposal:
• Increasing possibilities for intercultural learning and for fostering European identity especially for those ones not able to participate in long- term exchanges (here is has to be considered that within the Bachelor/ Master studies structure, there will not be much room for long-term exchanges)
• Promoting ICT in university world and therefore enhancing the idea of a “Europe of knowledge”
• Introducing e-learning in as method of instruction in conventional universities
• Following the global trend and creating virtual classrooms with a European dimension in teaching and research Taking advantage of the summer break of students
• Investing non-used resources of the universities
• Involving a lower budget compared to long-term exchanges, therefore increasing the amount of students participating in education programmes

In order to insert this kind of proposal in the next generation of EU education
programme we strongly recommend to set up a pilot project combining the
aspects described above.