The EU’s Erasmus+ program: additional efforts in global education

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The Commission selected 159 projects for funding under Erasmus+ program (Capacity Building for Higher Education), which supports the modernisation and quality assurance of higher education in third countries worldwide. These projects respond to the EU-wide aim of supporting international cooperation in the fields of higher education, improving education systems, as well as strengthening socio-economic growth and prosperity on a global scale.   

     Through the projects selected this year, 2,500 higher education stakeholders from almost 130 countries across the world (including the EU-27 states) will work together to modernise and internationalize higher education reforms. The overall program’s budget for 2023 of €115.3 million will, for example: a) advance the professionalization of math’s in Central Africa; b) support university studies in equity and equality law for vulnerable groups in Latin America; c) create curricula for a sustainable and “blue economy” (using maritime resources) in the Southern Mediterranean; and d) originate courses for transformative change in health education in South-East Asia.
Projects in other global regions are focusing on facilitating entrepreneurship skills for Central Asian women, digital education readiness in the Western Balkans, as well as developing universities’ international relations offices in the Middle East and food and nutrition resilience curricula in Western Africa.

     The EU efforts in the present Erasmus+ call for projects are designed to benefit the so-called third countries, using higher education cooperation as a channel for strengthening links between Europe and countries around the world. Thus, created partnerships help on developing new teaching content and techniques, train staff, and improve quality in university systems and administration. Erasmus’ projects are also able to pave the way for new policy approaches and reforms through involvement of national education authorities. In this way, EU’s world-wide initiatives benefit both the education sector and develop skills and practices in key areas socio-economic spheres, including green growth and manufacturing, energy management, food science, entrepreneurship, etc.

On capacity-building program
Erasmus + capacity-building projects in the field of higher education are transnational cooperation projects based on multilateral partnerships, primarily between higher education institutions from the EU member states (or countries associated to the program) and several third countries not associated to the program.
The aim of these projects is to support eligible third countries not associated to the programme in the following spheres: – modernising, “internationalizing” and increasing access to higher education; – addressing the challenges facing national higher education institutions and systems; = increasing cooperation with the EU; = voluntarily converging with the EU development in higher education, and = promoting “people-to-people” contacts, intercultural awareness and understanding.

About Erasmus new facilities
Erasmus+ provides opportunities for organisations from eligible partner countries, mainly higher education institutions, to promote cooperation. Created 36 years ago, Erasmus+ is one of the most vital EU programs with about 13 million people participating in the EU and world-wide educational transformations. It has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion and places a strong focus on social inclusion, green and digital transitions and promoting young people’s participation in progressive socio-economic development.
Newly created Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education is part of a broader set of actions to foster exchanges of students and staff and support cooperation in education between Europe and the rest of the world. These international actions are based on partnerships of institutions and stakeholders from the 27 EU and 6 associated countries on the one side, and other regions of the world on the other (as the non-associated third countries). The six associated countries to Erasmus+ are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.
Erasmus+ has an overall budget of €613 million for Capacity Building for Higher Education in 2021-2027 periods; the next call for proposals will be launched in November 2023.

Supporting students and education in Ukraine
The EU has also provided €5 million support for Ukraine through a large-scale Erasmus+ project for universities to strengthen the digital environment for higher education. The four-year project called “DigiUni” will develop a high-performance digital platform for Ukraine’s universities and will particularly benefit students who had to flee the country or are internally displaced; it will also ensure educational continuity for students enrolled at Ukrainian higher education institutions in the Ukrainian language and according to the Ukrainian curriculum.
The DigiPlatform will offer a digital learning facility to develop training in online teaching techniques and adapt learning content for online or virtual delivery: this part of the project (coordinated by Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv) will involve higher education institutions and stakeholders from six EU states (Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Poland and Spain)and 15 other partners, among which are nine national universities, the Ministries of Education and Digital Transformation, the National Agencies for Higher Education Quality Assurance, and three associations representing the IT sector and students.
As part of the program’s support for the Neighbourhood East region, another 19 Capacity Building projects involve Ukrainian universities and authorities, of which some look into the role of universities in reconstruction, as well as curriculum reform proposals that focus on peace and multilateralism as cross-cutting elements in studies, or skills development in energy efficiency.
Grant agreements will be signed in November 2023, so that projects can kick off their activities before the end of the year.

More information in the following Commission’s web-links: = Capacity Building for Higher Education, and = Capacity Building for Higher Education projects selected in 2022.


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