/// EUCIS-LLL NEWS ///
EUCIS-LLL Annual Conference: “Erasmus+: get on board!” 2 June
marchimageThe 2014 EUCIS-LLL Annual Conference will take place in Zagreb, Croatia on 2 June 2014. Entitled “Erasmus+: get on board”, this conference aims to give an overview of key European challenges in the field of education, training and youth and see how successful partnerships could propose solutions within the framework of Erasmus+. Participants will get a chance to meet practitioners and project managers from all around Europe and from all sectors of education and training. Keynote speakers will share their insights about the new opportunities. A European fair is planned in the evening with stands. More to be published soon.

A week full of events for EUCIS-LLL: policy debate on OERs and Erasmus+ training session  
EUCIS-LLL held on 4 March a policy debate on “Digital wave: supporting a cultural shift in learning systems?” (a key priority in EUCIS-LLL Manifesto for the European elections) at the European Parliament with the support of the EPP group. Hosted by MEP Maria do Céu PATRÃO NEVES and Maria Da Graça CARVALHO, MEP (Portugal, EPP), this debate was the opportunity to discuss the “Opening Up Education” Communication  with the Commission. Several experts were invited to build on the document and debate on digital learning. Saskia Van Uffelen, Digital Champion of Belgium, put an emphasis on the new role of educational leaders and teachers, the need to make them gain the right competences but also the crucial importance of enthusiasm and motivation. EUCISLLL also organised on 5 March a training session on Erasmus+, where the Commission, the Belgian National Agencies and successful project coordinators presented and discussed the new programme ; see all presentations on our webpage.

Calls for MEPs to support our Manifesto “Building together the Future of Learning”
The 2014 European elections will provide the right momentum to think about the future of learning in Europe. Poor access to lifelong learning limits people’s ability to access quality jobs and participate fully in society. We need a vision and a sustainable investment to ensure our education and training systems deliver better for economic development, social and civic participation, personal fulfilment and well-being. The European Parliament and civil society should further engage together in the future of learning. EUCIS-LLL Manifesto“Building together the Future of Learning” comprises 12 principles for lifelong lifelong. If you are an MEP and willing to support our manifesto contact us orclick here. We also encourage educational stakeholders to launch a debate on the future of learning at national level with their candidate MEPs and to use our Manifesto – already available in (EN) (FR) (DE) (NL) (PT) (PL) (TR) (IT).

/// NEWS FROM MEMBERS AND PARTNERS ///
Join the EDEN Annual Conference in Zagreb, Croatia, 10-13 June 2014
The European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) has open registrations for its Annual Conference in Zagreb on 10-13 June on the theme “From education to employment and meaningful work with ICTs”. ICT-enhanced learning will be there discussed as a way to help education and training systems to cope better and faster with changing employment and social needs, and in particular to bridge skills supply and demand from the labour market. Discover more on EDEN website and register before 5 June.

Campus Europae Annual Assembly guests key EU decision-makers
On 14th March Campus Europae will hold its 7th Board of Directors meetingwith Member Universities, Subject Committes and the Club d’Europe. Many key issues will be discussed such as the application of two new members (Naples and Nice Universities) as well as the Action Plan 2014-2016 covering the strategic orientations of the network. MEP Doris Pack, Chair of the Committee for Culture and Education in the European Parliament, and Kan Truszcynski, Director General for Education and Culture in the European Commission, will address participants notably on Erasmus+, the new EU funding programme for education, training, youth and sport, and the involvement of Campus Europae.

EESC Civil Society Day 2014: EU citizenship in question ahead of the elections
The Civil Society Day has now become a traditional gathering between key EY institutional and civil society players as well as various stakeholders interested in civil dialogue and the role of organised civil society to build a European participative democracy. The European Economic and Social Committee and theEESC Liaison Group with European civil society organisations and networks are organising this year’s Civil Society Day on 18 March at the EESC premises in Brussels, entitled “Beyond agendas and manifestos: what Europe for us?”. The reinforcement of economic, social and civic dimensions of EU citizenship will be discussed this year in light of the upcoming European elections, building on the EESC draft Action Plan for Europe and the Recommendations issued by the 2013 European Year Citizenship Alliance.

“Invest in Education”, the growing European Citizens Initiative
The European Citizens Initiative allows citizens that have collected 1 million signatures to make a legislative proposal to the European Commission on a topic they judge important. “Invest in Education” is one of those initiatives, proposing very simply to exempt from the measurement of each country’s public deficit the part of government spending for education that is lower than the last 5-year Eurozone average. The initiative seeks more generally to provide equal learning opportunities and ensure high quality education for all, values that EUCIS-LLL strongly defends. As highlighted by the Commission’s Education and Training Monitor 2013, 16 Member States had decreased their education expenditure at some stage between 2008 and 2011.

/// INSTITUTIONAL NEWS ///

EESC opinion on Opening Up Education
The European Economic and Social Committee released on 26 February itsOpinion on the Commission’s “Opening Up Education” Communication. EUCIS-LLL congratulates Mr Xavier Lobo (GR I, PT), Rapporteur on the Opinion, and Mr Pavel Trantina (GR III, CZ), Co-Rapporteur, for the work achieved and the openness they shown in collaborating with civil society through the dedicated EESC study group. EUCIS-LLL welcomes in particular the Opinion’s proposal to create “learning partnership” gathering various stakeholders including civil society organisations for a smoother paradigm shift toward the digital era in education; see EUCIS-LLL position paper on Opening Up Education. In the same field, see also the VISIR project seminar on “e-Learning micro innovation matters!” on 26 March in Brussels.

EU retaliation to Swiss vote: Confederation excluded from Erasmus+
After the decision of the Swiss people by referendum in February to change the country’s immigration system, the EU judged the founding principle of free movement of persons (institutionalised by an EU-Swiss agreement) and suspended the current negotiations on Swiss participation in Erasmus+. Switzerland is then classified until further notice in “partner countries”. Find on the Commission’s website all Erasmus+ activities open to Swiss participation.

Visa directive approved by MEPs in plenary session
The purpose of the Council Directive 2004/114 is to determine the conditions and procedures for admission of third-country nationals to the territory of the Member States for a period exceeding three months for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training or voluntary service. The implementation of this directive shows a number of weaknesses. EUCIS-LLL had made some concrete recommendations in order to have a more coherent and efficient system in the EU. On 25 February MEPsvoted in first reading the draft legislation, backing by 578 votes to 79 with 21 abstentions MEP Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE)’s report; see adopted text.

Social investment package, one year after: stock-taking and new scoreboard
The  2013  Social  Investment  Package  (S.I.P) is  meant  to  be  the  answer  to  the modernisation of EU social policies through a comprehensive series  of  non-binding recommendations for structural reforms in Member States (see EUCIS-LLL infonote for members). In the field of education and training, the SIP contains a Recommendation on “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage” based on three pillars (access to adequate resources, to affordable quality services and children’s right to participate). Following up on these recommendations, the Commission has created a European Platform for Investing in Children which collects and disseminates good practices in such areas as early childhood education and care or parenting support. It is also organising capacity-building seminars in particular in Member States which have received Country Specific Recommendations on fighting child poverty. All progress achieved can be found in the new SIP Roadmap published in February.

/// RESEARCH & INNOVATION ///

EUA new paper on MOOCs: discussing quality and cost-effectiveness
While the Commission has released a new “Opening Up Education” Communication, the European University Association (EUA) has published itssecond Occasional Paper on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In line with the first paper released at the beginning of 2013, the publication follows up on recent developments in the field in the EU but also beyond. The paper interestingly discusses for instance the cost-efficient argument related to MOOCs: those e-courses promise high quality learning for a large number at low costs but are undercutting the costs of other online learning models and preserving superior learning quality really compatible and realistic? Can they really solve the problems of mass education, i.e. the consequences of the ratio one educator/massive number of students?

New Commission magazine on Cohesion Policy 2014-2020
The Commission has released a new item of its quarterly Panorama Magazine specially devoted to “Cohesion policy 2014-2020: Momentum builds”. All important features of the cohesion policy reform for the seven years to come have been summarised and analysed there and the floor has been given to various stakeholders to express their opinion on the new programming period, for instance the Social Platform that wishes cohesion policy to combat poverty and exclusion. Education, training and lifelong learning are a key investment priority on the new cohesion policy (see EUCIS-LLL infonote for members).

New OECD study on financial education for youth
The OECD has released a new publication on “Financial education for youth: the role of schools”. Financial education has been judged essential for young people during the 2012 G20 Summit as key life skill for their financial inclusion, well-being and stability. The report looks at financial education in schools and compares learning frameworks. Financial education is an OECD priority.

/// EU FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES ///

Erasmus+ general call for proposals
This call for proposals is based on the Erasmus+ regulation recently adopted by the European Parliament and Council to implement the Erasmus+ programme 2014-2020. Deadline for Key Action 1 (“Mobility of individuals in the field of education, training and youth”): 17 March. Deadline for Key Action 2 (“Strategic Partnerships in the field of education, training and youth”): 30 April.

Erasmus+ Call for proposals 2014 for operating grants to European NGOs and EU-wide networks in education, training and youth
The objective of the call is to provide structural support, referred to as operating grant, to European non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) and EU-wide networks active in the field of education and training or in the field of youth and pursuing several aims (multiplication of EU action, increase stakeholders participation  and commitment, etc.) Deadline: 17 march 2014.

Call for proposals 2013 for joint mobility projects (JMP) and joint degree projects (JDP) – EACEA 24/13
The call’s objective is to enhance mutual understanding between people of the EU and the partner countries including broader knowledge of their languages, cultures and institutions and to enhance the quality of higher education and training by stimulating balanced partnerships between higher education and training institutions in the EU and in partner countries. Deadline for application: 15 May 2014.

Call for proposals – Erasmus+ Key Activity 3 “Prospective initiatives”
The Commission has released a call for proposals on “Prospective initiatives: European policy experimentation“. The general objective of the call for proposals is to encourage the assessment of the systemic impact of innovative policy measures through field trials in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of education and training systems and youth policies. Applicants can be public authorities, public or private organisations active in the field of education and training or youth, or carrying related activities. Deadline 20 May 2014.

/// PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS ///

Have your say on a European area of skills and qualifications
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on a European area of skills and qualifications. The objective of the consultation is to collect the views of stakeholders on the problems faced by learners and workers with regard to the transparency and recognition of their skills and qualifications when moving within and between EU Member States, on the adequacy of the related European policies and instruments and on the potential benefits of developing a “European Area of Skills and Qualifications”. Deadline for input: 15 April 2014.