President-elect of the European Commission, M. Juncker, has announced his new Commission (see press release) last week. M. Tibor Navracsics, Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, has been proposed as Commissioner for “Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship”. In his letter of mission, M. Juncker asked M. Navracsics to contribute, in particular, to promote excellence and networking among European universities, to reinforce the “knowledge triangle” between education, business and research and to support the work of the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility on youth employment, the development of skills and the strengthening of lifelong learning. EUCIS-LLL welcomes the proposal to create more synergies between the different Commission Portfolios with thematic “clusters” to move forward some complex and important dossiers and to reach Europe 2020 targets. However the decision to move “Adult Education and Vocational education and training” from DG Education and Culture to DG Employment may hinder the coherence of EU action in promoting lifelong learning as a comprehensive policy. Of course bridges have to be built between the two Directorates. It is important that the EU continues to be forward looking with a clear vision on the future of learning in Europe, while only coordinated lifelong learning strategies can bring those results. EUCIS-LLL welcomes the fact that citizenship is part of the same portfolio as education, culture and youth. Indeed the current economic downturn poses a serious challenge to fundamental rights and democratic participation through rising unemployment, shrinking public spending, growing xenophobia or racism. As stated in M. Navracsics’ mission letter making sure “Europeans can fully participate in society and empowering them to engage” is a sine qua none condition to build mutual trust and support with civil society. In view of Mr Navracsics’ and Mrs Thyssen’s public hearings by the European Parliament at the end of September, EUCIS-LLL has proposed some key questions to raise by MEPs of the CULT and EMPL Committees.Report on EUCIS-LLL event on learning and digital technologies
On 4 March EUCIS-LLL held a public hearing in the European Parliament entitled “Digital wave: supporting a cultural shift in learning systems” following up on the release of the Commission’s Communication on Opening Up Education. European Commission representatives, Members of Parliament, civil society thinkers, social partners and other key stakeholders gathered to reflect upon the stakes of the new digital era in the field of education and training. The general report of the event, now available, notably highlights that even though all parties agree on the direction to take to face the technological revolution, consensus has to be found on cost-effective measures to implement this political will based on a comprehensive approach covering the various sectors. Mainstreaming innovative projects, activating educators and leaders and supporting peer learning are key levers in that sense. See also EUCIS-LLL other actions on “Opening Up Education” and register for the discussion “ICT for growth and jobs: Norwegian and Belgian perspectives” held on 17 September in Brussels by the mission of Norway to the EU and ICT federal public services in Belgium.
Want to exchange on a renewed Europe? Join the 2nd Citizens Summit in Brussels, 23-24 September
The second edition of the Citizens’ Summit, an annual conference initiated by the Civil Society Contact Group, aims to reflect upon the direction Europe is currently taking after the elections and to challenge Europe’s growth obsession by proposing a more accountable, citizen-oriented, human rights and value based Union. This year the event is therefore entitled “Beyond the growth obsession – rights, justice and democracy for a renewed Europe” and will gather citizens, activists, NGOs from all over Europe and beyond. Register on citizenssummit.eu and see more information on the Facebook page.
The European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE) will hold a seminar on “Building Bridges for a more Professional Higher Education” in October. Throughout Europe a significant number of institutions and programmes recognise themselves in a number of features that are linked to the predicate ‘professional’. Professional higher education however cannot uniformly be defined within similar historical levels and (national) higher education structures, and even not to certain types of institutions and ways of learning. The Seminar is a 2 day event focusing on the mission of professional higher education. It is intended to inspire institutional management, staff members, the world of work and policy-makers in profiling their institutions and their everyday work. Register now!EAPRIL Conference 2014 // Cyprus, Nicosia – 25-28 November 2014
The European Association for Practitioner research on Improving Learning (EAPRIL) is organising a conference this fall entitled “Where Practice and Research on Learning and Development Meet”. Keynote speakers include high level university professors from all across Europe, all experts in higher education, work-based learning, research and many more fields. New conference formats will also be proposed such as “Flipping the session” narrated slides or L&D researchers and practitioners sessions. School visits will also be organised. Register before 16 October to benefit from early-bird rates!
Campus Europae Seminar on “Quality standards of student mobility” // Nice, France – 25-27 November 2014
In November Campus Europae will hold an Erasmus+ Staff Training together with the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis – IAE Nice Graduate School of Management in France for international relations officers. During the seminar, participants will look into the quality standards of student mobility and how they can be enhanced through close cooperation among partner institutions. The agenda offers a unique opportunity to acquire knowledge, get better acquainted and share experiences with colleagues from different universities of the CE network and beyond. The Staff Training will combine both presentations by experts from the network and from education stakeholders and best practice sessions. The hosts of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis – IAE Nice Graduate School of Management will organize social gatherings to discover the city and university. Register before 30 September!
Want to develop your student association? Follow Animafac’s MOOC!
Animafac and CNOUS have just launched the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to learn how to develop a student association. Experimented student volunteers and civil society experts will teach during 6 weeks lessons to structure your project of association, including group work and individualised advice. It may even be possible to obtain funding at the end of the training to concretise your idea. Learn more!
Don’t miss Volonteurope Seminar on ‘Rural Isolation of Citizens in the EU’ // Roma, Italy – 29 September
Volonteurope’s upcoming seminar on ‘Rural Isolation of Citizens in the EU’, which is organised in partnership with AUSER, will explore the problem of rural isolation amongst EU citizens and propose possible solutions to the challenges posed by the issue. The seminar will mark the start of Volonteurope’s two-year campaign on the problems of, and solutions to, rural isolation. As a result of recent European enlargement, the EU’s rural population has increased substantially from 75 million to 116 million, rendering the issue of rural isolation all the more salient. While rural areas are home to a significant portion of the EU’s population and contribute to its economy, they lag behind urban areas in employment, education and growth – all of which are part of the Europe2020 Strategy. More information online.
Volonteurope in partnership with Malta Health Network will organise its next annual conference on “Enlargement, Migration and Social Cohesion in the EU” in Valletta, Malta, on 12-14 November 2014. The Conference will be an important European civil society event highlighting the 10th anniversary of the biggest ever enlargement of the European Union as well as the trends, challenges and positive developments associated with mobility and migration in Europe – both intra-EU, as well as from outside of the Union. The Conference will address a range of key issues: fundamental rights of people in enlarged Europe, the impact of migration and enlargement on social cohesion, the challenges to mobility and migration and the impact of enlargement on civil society and volunteering. More information online.Active Citizens of Europe (ACE) Awards 2014
During Vonteurope conference, will be celebrated the 8th Active Citizens of Europe (ACE) Awards. The Awards Ceremony in Malta, on Thursday 13th November 2014, will recognise the invaluable contribution of individual volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations to the social cohesion of communities and tolerance in Europe. Volunteurope is now accepting nominations from across Europe for individuals or organisations who have proven to be outstanding pioneers in voluntary action tackling xenophobia and populism, and promoting diversity and social inclusion. The ACE Awards will recognise their achievements in improving the lives of their communities, locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.
/// INSTITUTIONAL NEWS ///
Last Committee for Culture and Education – MEPs back to school
Italian presidency priorities were presented in CULT Committee on 4 September where Minister for Education Stefania Giannini repeated key priorities for the mandate: better linking education, growth and development, fostering entrepreneurial mindsets, supporting teachers, bridging the digital divide, improving the efficiency of Erasmus+, internationalising education and in particular doctoral education, ensuring well-being at school and teaching humanities at an early age, following up on literacy policies, etc. MEPs mostly reacted by asking how those targets could be concretely achieved and how resources would be allocated. Some of them also defended a right balance between technical skills and humanities, sometimes undermined by too much emphasis on certain types of competences such as entrepreneurship. The study “Dual education: a bridge over trouble waters” was also presented to MEPs, examining latest policy developments in dual education and training systems over Europe.
Strengthening EU-China cooperation on education and training
In the framework of the High Level People to People Dialogue, Commissioner Vassiliou met on 6 September Chinese Vice-premier Liu Yandong (see press release) to reinforce cooperation on education, training, culture and youth including in the field of women’s rights. The Commissioner will notably promote the new generation of exchange programme such as Erasmus+ opportunities and the U-Multirank system. See also theTuning China project (2012-2014) aimed at strengthening the compatibility of EU and Chinese higher education systems and enhance the learning outcomes approach.
2015 will be the European Year for Development
First proposed at CONCORD‘s 2011 General Assembly, the 2015 European Year for Development (see Commissioner Piebalgs’ statement) will be the first European Year to focus on a topic that lies mainly outside of the borders of the EU, following up on the actions undertaken in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals which deadline is precisely 2015. The European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee have been expressing their support for this theme for a long time and 2015 should be the opportunity to build a new momentum for key external actions challenges, including education and training.
Youth Guarantee implementation moving forward
Member States are currently on the way to implement Youth Guarantee schemes. TheYouth Guarantee Recommendation was adopted in April 2013 and is part of the Youth Employment Package; it is aimed at contributing to reduce critical levels of youth unemployment in Europe by making sure that young people under 25 cannot stay more than four months after finishing education or becoming unemployed without being proposed a job, an internship, a training, etc. On 9 September the Commission met with coordinators of 18 Youth Guarantee pilot projects (see press release for details) implemented in 7 countries to review the progress made; project should give concrete elements to Member States to help them setting up national schemes. See also EUCIS-LLL press release on Youth Guarantee schemes and validation.
/// RESEARCH & INNOVATION ///
OECD’s “Education at a Glance” 2014 is out!
The traditional OECD review on education indicators has finally been launched last week. The publication provides comprehensive data from 34 European countries on various topics such as education spendings, levels, environments, links with the labour market and wider benefits of learning. Surprisingly one of the key findings of the report suggests that between 1995 and 2011 spending per student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels increased in almost all countries by more than 60%, even though the crisis have greatly affected public investments. “Education at a Glance” also contains very interesting data on adult education, showing for instance that highly literate adults are more likely to think they are in good health than adults with low literacy levels. See also the Commission press release.
CEDEFOP latest publications
The CEDEFOP has released a publication on the use of validation by enterprises for human resource and career development purposes. The report analyses competence assessment goals and methods as well as the exploitation of results among the target groups. The aim is to highlight the crucial need of correctly assessing staff skills among companies, for internal needs but also for individual opportunities. The CEDEFOP has also published the 2nd issue of its “Skillset and Match” magazine including highlights on apprenticeship reviews, social partner interviews, Italian Presidency Vet priorities, etc.
Getting universities and business closer: new study and upcoming conference
In June 2014 the Commission has released a study on how to measure the impact of university-business cooperation, highlighting the numerous benefits that can be gained from such collaboration: strengthening levels of human capital, stimulating entrepreneurship, reinforcing knowledge exchange and innovation or raising organisations’ profiles. The study is also accompanied by numerous interesting case studies. On the same theme, the University-Business Forum will take place on 2-3 October in Rome, Italy entitled “Universities, Businesses & Co.: Together we can. Strategic Inter-sectorial Partnerships for Economic and Social Change and Growth”.
New Council of Europe publication on schooling language
The Council of Europe has just released a book on “The importance of competences in the languages of schooling for equity and quality in education and for educational success”. This recommendation concerns the mastery of the language of schooling in the various subjects taught and its importance for learners’ success. Many factors have well-documented roles to play in a learner’s educational success or failure (the family’s socio-economic situation, help available to learners from their parents, educational activities, level of teacher training, early support, etc.). Inadequate command of a wide range of linguistic forms partly determines educational failure, as confirmed by the programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
/// PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS ///
Public Consultation on Europe 2020
In the framework of the revision of the Europe 2020 strategy, a consultation has been launched by the Commission to collect stakeholders’ views on the lessons learned from the early years of the Europe 2020 strategy and on the elements to be taken into account in its further development, in order to build the post-crisis growth strategy of the EU. Read soon EUCIS-LLL contribution to the consultation. Deadline 31 October 2014.