Pensions: Raising retirement ages and expanding private pension coverage essential, says OECD
Over the next 50 years, life expectancy at birth is expected to increase by more than 7 years in developed economies. The long-term retirement age in half of OECD countries will be 65, and in 14 countries it will be between 67 and 69. The Pensions Outlook 2012 says that increases in retirement ages are underway or planned in 28 out of the 34 OECD countries. These increases, however, are expected to keep pace with improved life expectancy only in six countries for men and in 10 countries for women. Governments should thus consider formally linking retirement ages to life expectancy, as in Denmark and Italy, and make greater efforts to promote private pensions.
“Bold action is required. Breaking down the barriers that stop older people from working beyond traditional retirement ages will be a necessity to ensure that our children and grand-children can enjoy an adequate pension at the end of their working life,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Though these reforms can sometimes be unpopular and painful, at this time of tight public finances and limited scope for fiscal and monetary policy, these reforms can also serve to boost much needed growth in ageing economies.”
The Pensions Outlook 2012 finds that reforms over the past decade have cut future public pension payouts, typically by 20 to 25 per cent. People starting work today can expect a net public pension of about half their net earnings on average in OECD countries, if they retire after a full career, at the official retirement age. But in nearly all the 13 countries that have made private pensions mandatory, pensioners can expect benefits of around 60% of earnings.
Conversely, in countries where public pensions are relatively low and private pensions voluntary, such as Germany, Ireland, Korea, Japan and the United States, large segments of the population can expect major falls in income upon retirement.
This could cause pensioner poverty to increase significantly. Later retirement and greater access to private pensions will be critical to closing this pension gap, says the OECD.
However, making private pensions compulsory is not necessarily the answer for every country. According to the report, such action could unfairly affect low earners and be perceived as an additional tax. Auto-enrolment schemes – where people are enrolled automatically and can then opt out within a certain time frame – might be a suitable alternative.
Italy and New Zealand have already introduced such schemes and the UK is set to roll one out in October 2012. However, the report finds that results are mixed, with a major expansion of coverage of private pensions in countries like New Zealand, and having only a small effect in others like Italy.
More broadly, reforming tax reliefs to encourage private pension savings is also needed, as low earners and younger workers are much less likely to have a private pension. Facilitating matching contributions or giving flat subsidies to savers, such as in Germany and New Zealand, would improve their incentives to contribute. To boost confidence in private pensions, governments also need to improve their oversight of funds to ensure that charges are kept low and risks minimised.
This inaugural edition of the Pensions Outlook also includes the first comprehensive evaluation of national Defined Contribution systems, which are now a central feature of many countries’ pension systems. Among other recommendations, the report argues that it is critical to set the minimum or default contribution rate in Defined Contribution systems at an appropriate level.
Contributions to these systems need to be high enough so that together with public pensions they generate sufficient income at retirement. While Australia is moving in the right direction by increasing its contribution rate from 9% to 12%, it remains too low in countries such as Mexico and New Zealand (6.5% and 3%, respectively).
For comment or further information, journalists should contact Juan Yermo of the OECD’s Financial Affairs division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 96 62) or Edward Whitehouse of the OECD’s Social Policy division (tel. + 33 6 25 89 56 67).
Highlights of the report are available at www.oecd.org/daf/pensions/outlook.
Also available: Relever l’âge de la retraite et étendre le champ couvert par les pensions privées est essentiel, estime l’OCDE (French).
OECD PENSIONS OUTLOOK 2012
Recent pension reforms will lead to lower public pensions for future generations of retirees, around 20-25% on average. This first edition of the Pensions Outlook argues that countries should focus on two main policies to address the growing pensions gap: later retirement and extending the coverage of private pensions.
Overall, the pace of pension reform has accelerated over the last five years. Changes include increases in pensionable ages, the introduction of automatic adjustment mechanisms and the strengthening of work incentives. Some countries have also better focused public pension expenditure on lower income groups. However, some recent reforms have raised controversy, such as the decision of some Central and Eastern European countries to pull back earlier reforms that introduced a mandatory funded component.
Most OECD countries have already begun to increase pensionable ages, or plan to do so in the near future. Age 65 remains the modal age at which people normally draw their pensions, accounting for 17, or half, of OECD countries for men and 14 countries for women. But 67 – or higher – is becoming the new 65. Some 13 countries (12 for women) are either increasing pension ages to this level or, in the cases of Iceland and Norway, are already there. Italy, which links pension age and seniority requirements to life expectancy from 2013 and Denmark, which plans to link pension age to life expectancy from the mid-2020s, are forecast nearly to reach age 69 in 2050. The United Kingdom has accelerated the increase in the pensionable age, which will move from 65 to 66 by 2020 (6 years earlier than planned) and from 66 to 67 by 2026-28 (10 years earlier than planned).
Extending working lives will help enhance both the sustainability and adequacy of pension systems. However, planned increases in retirement ages are generally insufficient to address expected rises in life expectancy. In many countries, cuts in public pensions will also widen the gap between pre and post retirement income. In order to close this pension gap, a growing role for private pensions will be essential.
Currently, thirteen OECD countries have either compulsory private pension systems in place (e.g. Australia, Chile) or quasi-mandatory systems based on nation-wide or industry-wide collective bargaining agreements (e.g. Denmark, the Netherlands) to ensure that most workers are covered and therefore have access to a sufficiently high complementary pension. However, in some countries with relatively low public pension benefits, private provision remains voluntary and the highest coverage rates observed are around 50%. In all the countries analysed in the report, the young, low income, part-time and temporary workers are least likely to participate in voluntary private pension plans (see UK case below).
An alternative to compulsory enrolment that has gained popularity in recent years is automatic enrolment. At its essence, it involves signing up people automatically to private pensions but giving them the option to opt out with different degrees of difficulty. Auto-enrolment was introduced in New Zealand in 2007 and partly explains the rapid increase in the coverage of the KiwiSaver (about 55% of the working age population, the highest level among non-compulsory systems in the OECD). On the other hand, in Italy, the introduction of auto-enrolment in 2007 has only had a small effect on coverage rates.
In October 2012 the United Kingdom will also see the introduction of a nation-wide auto-enrolment retirement savings system for all those workers who are not currently covered by private pension plans. This new mechanism should increase further the coverage rate of occupational pension schemes, currently standing at 43.3% of the working age population.
The design of financial incentives for retirement savings also needs to be reformed. Germany (Riester) and New Zealand (KiwiSaver) have introduced financial incentives based on direct state subsidies from the state to retirement savings accounts that also benefit workers that pay no or low taxes. In Germany, the state subsidy provided to Riester pension plans has promoted greater participation among lower income workers than among other private pension arrangements (see Figure 3 below). Low income workers do not normally benefit much from the tax incentives traditionally used to promote private pensions.
The success of these countries in expanding coverage in a relatively short period largely vindicates these policies, though financial incentives can create a heavy burden on already stretched public budgets. Furthermore, coverage gaps also remain in these countries, and overall enrolment rates are still below those observed in countries with mandatory or quasi-mandatory systems (over 70% of the working age population).
Private pension plans, particularly mandatory and auto-enrolment ones, are increasingly of the defined contribution (DC) type. Such plans require careful design and regulation as individuals are often ill-prepared to manage their savings in an effective manner. The starting point for a successful DC plan is a sufficiently high contribution rate.
The chart below compares projected public pension benefits with the mandatory contribution rate in mandatory DC plans or the typical or average contribution rate to voluntary DC plans, depending on the country. The public pension projections are shown as replacement rates (benefits as a percentage of final salary) for a young male worker earning average wages and entering the workforce in 2008 who accumulated benefit rights throughout his whole career and retires at the official or normal retirement age.
The graph shows a broadly inverse relationship between public pension benefits and DC contribution rates. For instance, in the United Kingdom the contribution rate of 8% in the auto-enrolment system should allow the average worker with a full career to reach a gross replacement rate of nearly 70% (32% from public PAYG pensions and 37% from the auto-enrolment retirement savings system). The net replacement rate would be around 80% for workers on average earnings.
On the other hand, there are some countries that clearly stand out in having both relatively low public pension benefits and DC contribution rates that do not seem to be sufficiently high. Such countries include Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and Norway. These are also among the countries that fall below the black diagonal line, which shows the combination of public pensions and DC contribution rates (with a 40-year contribution period) that delivers an overall replacement rate of 70% on average. Other countries below the black line include Australia, Chile, New Zealand and especially Mexico. The Australian government recently announced that it would raise the mandatory contribution rate from 9 to 12%, which would bring the country above the black line.
Another major concern in private pensions is investment risk. The financial and economic crisis has exerted major stress on private pension arrangements. Most countries’ pension funds are still in the red in terms of cumulative investment performance over the period 2007-11 (-1.6% annually, on average, in real terms). Even when measured over the period 2001-10, the pension funds’ real rate of return in the 21 OECD countries that report such data averaged a paltry 0.1%. Such disappointing performance puts at risk the ability of private pension arrangements to deliver adequate pensions. The United Kingdom follows the general trend, with average real investment returns of pension funds of -1.1% over the period 2007-10 and -0.1% over the period 2001-10.
In DC pension systems, one clear goal for policymakers should be to improve the design of default investment strategies so that investment risk is reduced as the worker approaches retirement. Such life-cycle investment strategies may need to be carefully regulated to ensure that workers are offered sufficient diversification and protection from market shocks in old age.
Young people from a migrant background at greater risk of leaving education and training early
In the EU more than one in four young people from a migrant background leaves education and training too early.
Efforts in education are critical to preparing immigrants, and particularly their descendants, to be more successful and more active participants in society (Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of Member States on Integration, 4.5.2010).
The indicator considered here is the percentage of young people aged 18 to 24 who leave education and training early. It is calculated for all young people in that age group and is further specified for two particular sub-groups: young people born abroad and young people with foreign citizenship.
In 2010, in the EU, the shares of foreign-born and foreign young people who left education and training early (30% and 26%, respectively) were much higher than the corresponding average for all 18-24 years olds (14%). In some countries, the difference was more than 10 percentage points.
In 2010, the risk of a young person from a migrant background leaving education and training early was highest in four southern European countries (Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal). Greece had the highest share of foreign-born young people who were early leavers (44%) and the United Kingdom had the lowest share (10%). Greece also had the highest share of foreign young people who were early leavers (47%) with Luxembourg having the lowest share (10%). These findings are all based on available country figures.
In 2010, the incidence of early leaving among foreign-born young people, compared with the country average for all 18-24 year-olds, was particularly high in Greece and Italy (with, respectively, 30 and 22 percentage points more than the country average), followed by Spain, Cyprus, Austria, Germany and France (with between 12 and 15 percentage points more than the country average).
Similar differences were recorded for early leaving among all young people and early leaving among foreign young people, with Greece and Italy having the biggest differences (+33 and +25 percentage points, respectively) followed by other countries (Spain, Germany, Cyprus, France, Austria and Belgium) with differences that are smaller but still more than 10 percentage points.
The situation was reversed only in the United Kingdom, and partly in Portugal, where the average early leaving for the overall population of young people was higher than for young people from a foreign background.
The indicator considers the share of young people aged 18-24 who are defined as early leavers from education and training, i.e. 18-24 year-olds with at most lower secondary education (ISCED 0-2 or 3c short) who declared that they have not received any education or training in the four weeks preceding the survey. The indicator is further specified for foreign young people and foreign-born young people. Foreigners or foreign population refers to persons who are not citizens of the country in which they reside, including persons of unknown citizenship and stateless persons. Foreign-born refers to persons whose place of birth, or the place of residence of the mother at the time of the birth, is outside the country of his or her usual residence.
Data originate from the EU Labour Force Survey and are subject to its methodology. Data were processed by DESTATIS and published on the Eurostat website. Data were extracted from the Eurostat online database on 22 May 2012. When interpreting the data, possible differences in national implementation of the EU LFS should be taken into account. Two approaches were considered in calculating the figures (i.e. country of birth and citizenship) to account for the different institutional settings which, in the EU Member States, can affect the specification of the migrant background of young people.
Data for some countries and/or for some dimensions are not presented either because the data were not available or owing to sample size limitations.
Progress in reducing early school leaving and increasing graduates in Europe, but more efforts needed.
Early school leaving in Europe – Questions and answers.
Conclusions (Council & Representatives of the Governments of Member States) on Integration.
Indicators of Immigrant Integration - A pilot study.
Eurostat employment and social policy - Migrant integration indicators.
More statistics of the month.
Cedefop Statistics and indicators section.
A multilingual toolkit for training professionals - European training thesaurus, a multilingual synopsis
A multilingual tool kit for training professionals
How can people working in the education, training and employment fields across Europe make sure what they all mean when using the a term? This is the problem that Cedefop’s linguistic tools have been designed to address. Our latest offering is the multilingual synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus.
This publication, which is available online in pdf form free of charge, is a selection of 1207 terms and concepts which appear frequently in literature related to European vocational education and training (VET) research and policy. This tool forms the basis of the full-fledged online thesaurus Cedefop is currently preparing. Rather than having the full features of a thesaurus, the synopsis allows for a quick navigation by language, term and topic.
Each term/concept is presented in 11 languages: Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish. Topics covered include skills needs and shortages, lifelong learning, vocational education and training policy, assessment and certification of learning outcomes, recognition of certificates and diplomas, and vocational guidance. Download European training thesaurus.
Background and outlook
The ETT is Cedefop’s thesaurus and constitutes a multilingual controlled vocabulary for VET in Europe. It contains more than 2 500 terms (descriptors and non-descriptors) and is used to describe and access knowledge of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).
Its topics include skill needs and shortages, lifelong learning, VET policy, assessment of learning outcomes, qualifications and vocational guidance.
ETT was first developed in the 1980s to standardise the indexing process for Cedefop’s bibliographic VET-Bib database to make searching simpler and more efficient. Currently, ETT is used in different library applications, as well as in Cedefop’s webportal.
In 2008, the third edition of ETT was published and made available on the Internet in English and French.
Since then, a lot of effort has gone into preparing additional language versions, mainly by ReferNet members. The following additional languages have been finalised: Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish. Czech and Maltese versions are currently in preparation.
As a living working tool, the ETT is constantly being updated to:
• include new concepts and terms arising from current shifts and trends in VET in Europe;
• integrate terms and concepts deriving from Cedefop’s vocabularies;
• align ETT terminology with Eurovoc.
Since 2011, Cedefop has also been a member of Eurovoc’s collaborative thesaurus working group. The group aims at developing a European metathesaurus, which will link specialised thesauri to EuroVoc.
Cedefop will be the first EU organisation to benefit from full integration and alignment with EuroVoc.
The ETT is managed by Cedefop’s library and documentation service. It is updated at regular intervals to reflect the latest developments in VET.
The European training thesaurus working group (TWG) is made up of representatives from Cedefop, ReferNet, Eurovoc and Eurydice. The TWG collects and examines proposals for new terms/concepts to be added to the thesaurus.
Cedefop coordinates work of the TWG and is responsible for technical developments and monitoring translations. Translations of accepted terms are then provided by ReferNet. We are very grateful for the contribution and expertise of the TWG. We would like especially to thank ReferNet members who translated terms for this publication:
• Denmark (Danish Agency for International Education),
• Netherlands (ECBO – Expertisecentrum Beroepsonderwijs),
• Estonia (Innove – Foundation for Lifelong Learning Development),
• Finland (Finnish National Board of Education),
• France (Centre INFFO – Centre pour le développement de l’information sur la formation permanente),
• Germany (BIBB – Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung),
• Ireland (FÀS – Training and Employment Authority),
• Italia (ISFOL – Istituto per lo sviluppo della formazione professionale dei lavoratori),
• Poland (BKKK – Task Force for Training and Human Resources),
• Portugal (DGERT – Direcção-Geral do Emprego e das Relações de Trabalho), and
• Sweden (SKOLVERKET – Swedish National Agency for Education).
We welcome comments and suggestions and look forward to receiving feedback via the dedicated comments form. Download European training thesaurus.
The COPERNICUS Alliance
Networking: Exchanging and enhancing knowledge on Education for Sustainable Development between European Higher Education and student organizations that work for sustainability
Policy: Promoting Higher Education for Sustainable Development in European policy making
Service: Disseminating tools for sustainability integration in higher education
Outreach: Promoting sustainable development in European Higher Education
Representation: Representing European Higher Education for Sustainable Development in international committees on Education for Sustainable Development
The COPERNICUS Alliance aims to achieve above mentioned goals through a growing network of European higher education institutions and develop a platform to strengthen integration of sustainable development in higher education management, education, research and society.
The COPERNICUS Alliance is strongly dependent on the participation of its members. Based on their activities it forms an innovation network for integration of sustainable development at higher education institutions with multiple contacts and possibilities of exchange at a European level.
The COPERNICUS Alliance is strongly connected to the COPERNICUS Charta. The original document was developed in 1993 and until 2005 signed by 326 universities as a self commitment to follow its principles on sustainable development.
In 2011 a redesigned version was released as 'COPERNICUS Charta 2.0'.
About, Charta, Network, Goals, Vision.
Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability-GUPES
The launch of GUPES at Tongji University is a culmination of several preparatory processes that have been ongoing since the first GUPES Consultative meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya during November 2010. GUPES is expected to provide a platform for universities interested in enhancing environment and sustainability concerns through teaching, training and networking, with the following objectives:
- Evaluate experiences, lessons learnt, challenges and opportunities for the GUPES network since its inception;
- Agree on a common platform and strategic partnership framework for universities globally on environment and sustainability;
- Develop a strategic framework for resource mobilization for GUPES programmes, projects and activities as well as South-South and North-South partnerships; and
- Launch publications developed by UNEP’s Environmental Education and Training Unit in partnership with Universities from the GUPES network.
GUPES is also linked with the UN Higher Education Initiative on Sustainability, which will be launched during the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
The presentation included a High level panel on Universities and the transition towards ‘Green Economies’ and ‘Green Societies’ in the lead up Rio+20. It was held in conjunction with the 2012 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development, which gathered around 400 students from all across the world.
What is Higher Education For? Shared and contested ambitions
The SRHE Annual Conference provides a major platform for the presentation and sharing of research in every aspect of higher education.
You are invited to contribute to this debate in a variety of ways: by presenting a paper, including work of a conceptual or theoretical nature, forming or participating in a symposium, or organising a round table on any aspect of this year’s theme or your own research interests. Empirical and scholarly research from a wide range of perspectives is welcome.
Submitting authors will be asked to provide an abstract for peer review in two parts;
Part 1 Abstract: This needs to be a 150 word maximum summary of the proposal. This will be the information printed in the published conference programme.
Part 2 Outline: It will be a maximum 1000 word outline of the research to be presented. Both parts will be required at the point of first submission and there will be no subsequent call for full papers for accepted abstracts later in the year.
The full abstract of parts 1 and 2 will be available for all delegates on a CD Rom at the Conference.
Deadline for conference paper submissions: Friday 29 June 2012
The SRHE Annual Conference is a participative event at which delegates presenting their own work will also participate in the discussions in plenary sessions and the presentations of the work of others. The Conference programme is planned on the basis that delegates will attend the whole event over the three days.
The conference will start on Wednesday 12 December at 11.00am (registration from 9.30am) and finish after lunch at 3pm on Friday 14 December. The Welcome Reception will be on the first evening, Wednesday 12 December and the Conference Gala dinner on Thursday 13 December. Celtic Manor, set in 1400 acres of parkland in the stunning Welsh USK Valley, is one of the finest conference venues in Europe offering state of the art conference facilities, accommodation for all conference delegates and extensive and exclusive spaces for delegates to network.
Newer Researchers' Perspectives
The Newer Researchers Conference will be held on 11 December at the Celtic Manor Resort.
Download Call For Papers SRHE Conference.
Download Call For Papers SRHE Newer Researchers Conference.
See also Positive Futures for higher education.
Europe-Africa Quality Connect
Some of the key issues to be discussed will be:
- feedback from the stakeholder community on the university evaluation methodology;
- how universities in Africa can best utilise the results of the evaluations;
- regional and sub-regional frameworks for QA and how this pilot initiative supports them;
- the future of the programme in Africa and prospects for other universities who would be interested in undergoing evaluations; and
- future Europe-Africa cooperation in QA.
A draft programme can be found on the project website. The event is open and there is no conference fee. If you are interested in attending, please contact: email@example.com.
Europe-Africa Quality Connect is an Erasmus Mundus-supported project, coordinated by EUA in conjunction with the Association of African Universities, the Irish University Quality Board and the University of Aveiro. For more information, please visit this website.
See also Participants of Europe-Africa Quality Connect endorse IEP evaluation approach in Africa.
EUCEN Observatory for ULLL
The EUCEN observatory on Lifelong Learning has been developed by the European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) with initial support from the lifelong learning policies unit of the European Commission. It aims at developing Lifelong Learning at European level.
The objectives are to provide an understanding of the major European reforms that are taking place in Higher Education concerning Lifelong Learning.
The observatory provides information on the major European Policies and three Processes for University Lifelong Learning:
1. The Lisbon Process
2. The Bologna Process
3. The Copenhagen Process
The observatory also provides information about 6 important themes:
1. Validation of non-formal and informal learning
3. Learning outcomes
We hope you enjoy it and help us keeping it interesting by sending your opinions and suggestions to the Executive Office of EUCEN.
Policies and Process.
Lifelong Learning Strategy.
The Lifelong Learning perspective and the Lisbon strategy constitute the two pillars of European educational strategy. The Feira European Council in June 2000 asked the Commission and the Member States "to identify coherent strategies and practical measures to promote lifelong learning and make it accessible to all". This led to the publication, in October 2000 of the "Memorandum" (Commission Staff Working Document, "A Memorandum on lifelong learning", on 30 October 2000), followed by a wide consultation process at European level. This led to the publication in November 2001 of a Communication from the Commission, "Making a European Area for Lifelong Learning a reality", and to a Council Resolution on 27 June 2002 supporting this initiative and its implementation (Official Journal of the European Communities, 9.7.2002) with a view to achieving a European area for lifelong learning. Since that time, all documents and papers from the Commission refer to this strategy which has been added to by additional initiatives aiming to foster its implementation. Simultaneously, documents published by member states representatives and stakeholders mirror this growing preoccupation on the part of various actors involved in concrete actions and activities.
The Lisbon Strategy or Lisbon process aims to make the European Union "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion by 2010". It was set up by the European council on March 2000 at the Lisbon Summit. (Conclusions of the Lisbon European Council, March 2000).
The Bologna Process started with the Sorbonne joint Declaration on Harmonisation of the Architecture of the European Higher Education System signed in May 1998 by the Ministers of Education of four countries (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom), followed one year later by the Bologna Declaration on 19 June 1999 signed by 29 Ministers responsible for Higher Education ("Joint Declaration of European Ministers of Education, Bologna 1999"). Other countries members of the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe have progressively signed this Declaration and joined the movement.
The Lisbon European Council in March 2000 recognised the important role of education as an instrument for strengthening Europe's competitive power worldwide ("to become the world's most dynamic knowledge-based economy"). The development of high quality vocational education and training is a crucial and integral part of this strategy.
Attention to university lifelong learning (ULLL) in the Bologna process started in a rather weak fashion but has been growing in strength as the primary objectives of the Process have been achieved. The original Bologna Declaration in 1999 had as one of its objectives: ‘ECTS compatible systems also covering lifelong learning'; and 2 years later in Prague, Ministers emphasised that ‘lifelong learning strategies are necessary to face the challenges of competitiveness and the use of new technologies and to improve social cohesion, equal opportunities and the quality of life.'
However, there was no reference to ULLL in the action points and it remained somewhat secondary to the main concerns of implementing the BMD structure, quality issues and the EHE research area. The Trends Report for the Berlin meeting in 2003 (Reichert and Tauch 2003), not surprisingly, reported very patchy development of LLL strategies at institutional level with significant differences between countries, identifying that the ‘most salient problem is clearly the lack of integration of LLL provision in the general strategies, core processes and decision making of the institution'.
In the Communiqué following the Berlin meeting, Ministers called for the qualifications frameworks that were being developed to encompass a wide range of flexible learning paths, opportunities and techniques and to make appropriate use of ECTS credits. They also stressed the need to improve opportunities for all citizens to follow LLL paths into and within higher education. However, the Trends report prepared for the following meeting in Bergen in 2005 (Reichert and Tauch 2005) had no specific focus on LLL and the short section on ‘the recognition of non-formal/non-academic qualifications' claimed that ‘the topic is part of the wider theme of lifelong learning that has been much neglected so far in the Bologna discussion'.
The subsequent Communiqué from the Bergen meeting seemed to be attempting to redress this imbalance and to be promoting greater attention to LLL: ‘We see the development of national and European frameworks for qualifications as an opportunity to further embed lifelong learning in higher education. We will work with higher education institutions and others to improve recognition of prior learning, including where possible non-formal and informal learning for access to and as elements in, higher education programmes'. It stated that over the next 2 years to 2007, Ministers would look for progress in ‘creating opportunities for flexible learning paths in higher education, including procedures for the recognition of prior learning.' However, the Trends V Report (Crosier et al 2007) stated that ‘while the rhetoric on lifelong learning has been a constant feature of the policy discussion throughout the Bologna period, action has still to follow' (p64).
EUA has elaborated in 2008 the Charter on Lifelong Learning on the basis of extensive consultation with a wide range of European higher education stakeholder organisations (i.e. Business Europe, EAEA, EADTU, EAN, EI, ESU, ETUC, EUCEN, EURASHE and FEDORA). EUCEN's contribution with the results of the BeFlex project has been crucial for the preparation of this document. The Charter lists 10 commitments for universities and 10 commitments for Governments with the aim to assist Europe's universities in developing their specific roles as LLL institutions forming a central pillar of the Europe of Knowledge.
This Charter was presented by Georg Winckler, president of EUA, to the Ministers responsible for education and training in Europe, at their informal seminar in Bordeaux on the 26th of November 2008. Now the time of implementation has come. A new challenge for universities in Europe.
In October 2006, the European Commission issued its Communication "It's never too late to learn", calling on the Member States to promote adult learning in Europe, which it identified as a crucial element of the European lifelong learning strategy. EUCEN's formal response to this communication. The participation of adults in lifelong learning provision remains weak in most European countries with education and training systems largely focused on young people. To address this, the Commission urged Member States to develop an effective adult learning system and proposed in September 2007 an Action Plan on Adult Learning considering five key challenges to be achieved by 2010.
Validation of non-formal and informal learning
The notion of giving credit in higher education for learning that takes place outside the university was first raised by the European Commission in the Memorandum on Higher Education in the European Community (1991), issued by the then Task Force on Human Resouces, Education, Training, Youth:
‘The mainstreaming of continuing education raises a number of essential academic issues which must be resolved. Foremost among these is the question of access and the basis on which continuing education students and mature students generally are admitted to higher education courses. The positive policies which are to be observed in some institutions and which give credit for maturity and for knowledge and experience gained in the labour market would need to be adopted on a wider scale, as would the provision of preparatory courses which supply the basic preparation relevant to embarking on a particular course of higher education.' (p24)
It next appeared in 1995 in a White paper which stated that the identification and validation were an important part of realising lifelong learning, in particular making visible is learned outside formal education and training, recognising a diversity of learning situations and settings and looking for credibility and authenticity of such learning.
This orientation was confirmed in 2000 in documents launching the lifelong learning perspective. The Memorandum on Lifelong Learning published by the Commission on 30 October 2000 ("Commission Staff Working Document: A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning") states: "lifelong learning sees all learning as a seamless continuum from cradle to grave". First Experiments. Common principles. European guidelines. Inventories. Initiatives and practice.
The first mention of a European framework of qualifications for higher education appeared in the Berlin Communiqué in September 2003. "Ministers encourage the Member States to elaborate a framework of comparable and compatible qualifications for their higher education systems, which should seek to describe qualifications in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competences and profile. They also undertake an overarching framework of qualifications for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)". Process of adoption, What is EQF, Resolution of the European Parliament, EQF and ULLL, Problems emerging.
The notion of "learning outcomes", has been in use for several years in UK, but has appeared more recently in the European landscape, first in the vocational education and training sector and is now moving progressively into all sectors, in particular into higher education. In the early stages of the European educational strategy, greater significance in the European rhetoric with the launch of debates on Europass, on the European Qualification Framework, on the Common Principles for validation of non formal and informal learning or, more recently, on ECVET.
In higher education, the reflection on learning outcomes was introduced quite early in this process. In 2003, the Berlin Communiqué from the Ministers responsible for higher education stated that: ‘Ministers encourage the Member States to elaborate a framework of comparable and compatible qualifications for their higher education systems, which should seek to describe qualifications in terms of workload, level, learning outcomes, competences and profile". In 2004, the "ECTS user's guide" gave a definition of learning outcomes: "credits in ECTS can only be obtained after successful completion of the work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved. Learning outcomes are sets of competences, expressing what the student will know, understand or be able to do after completion of a process of learning, long or short". Learning outcomes were also at the core of the work of the Tuning project which defined learning outcomes as "statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after a completion of a process of learning". By 2005, the emphasis on learning outcomes was much clearer in the Bologna Process: in the Bergen Communiqué when Ministers adopted the overarching framework of three cycles for higher education qualifications (B-M-D), they stated that descriptors for each cycle would be based on learning outcomes and competences.
ECTS started in 1989 within the framework of an Erasmus pilot plan involving 145 higher education institutions. It was set up in the beginning as a credit transfer project. The objective was to recognise periods of study abroad, and thus to increase student mobility in Europe. The first pilot plan has been progressively extended. In 1997-1998, 772 new institutions applied for the introduction of ECTS, 290 one year later. What is the Credit System, Key documents of ECTS, Process of implementation, Evolution and debates, ECTS, ECVET and ULLL.
The proposition by the Commission of European credit system for vocational education and training is directly linked to the development of ECTS, to its impact on mobility and on transformation of educational approaches in higher education institutions. On the basis of the conclusions of the report on the "ECTS extension feasibility project", the Commission indicated what could be the next step for credit-based systems. "A new European credit system would increase the transparency of national systems, encourage flexibility in the development of personalised study courses and of joint curricula and facilitate agreements for the mobility of learners, not only between educational sectors in the same country, but also between those of different countries. Credit systems are powerful enabling devices, which aid mobility between various forms of education and training. The application of ECTS to different systems and types of education will facilitate the recognition of learning gained both nationally and internationally" (Erasmus, ECTS extension feasibility project). And finally the Joint interim report from the Education Council and the Commission on "Education & Training 2010" implementation, stressed the new impetus given by the Copenhagen declaration to European cooperation on vocational education and training and underlined the foundations laid by Ministers responsible for VET of a European credit transfer system for VET. What is ECVET? Progress in implementation of ECVET, Debates.
In December 2003, after a consultation of national authorities and social partners, the European Commission introduced a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council for a single framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences which rationalises several existing tools for the transparency of diplomas, certificates and competences.
And finally in 2002, the European Forum on the transparency of vocational qualifications was replaced by a technical working group, whose mandate, following what was stated by the Copenhagen Declaration was to develop "increasing transparency in vocational education and training through the implementation and rationalisation of information tools and networks, including the integration of existing instruments such as the European CV, Certificate and Diploma Supplements, the Common European Framework of reference for languages and the Europass into one single framework." Read more about EUROPASS from CEDEFOP. Process of adoption. What is EUROPASS? EUROPASS for ULLL.
EUCEN was founded in May 1991, during a meeting held in Bristol (UK) with the title: ‘Towards a European Universities Continuing Education Network’. The Statutes were registered in Belgium and the Association was legally constituted in 1993.
The most important activities carried out by EUCEN since 1991 are:
Organising Conferences (two events per year)
Leading and managing European Projects
Sharing of Results
EUCEN has 198 members in 37 different countries. Its contact with National Networks on ULLL/UCE and other stakeholders gives EUCEN the strength and knowledge that makes it unique of its kind. EUCEN developed this website with the support of the European Comission (DG EAC) during 2008-2009 and has kept it available since then. For more information about EUCEN, please follow this link. Useful Information: European Presidency, Bologna Follow Up group. EU Projects. Contact us.
See also EUCEN's 44th Conference - Border-Crossing as a Viable Choice: Collaboration, Dialogue & Access to HE - Valletta,
EUCEN 43rd Universities’ Engagement in and with Society - The ULLL contribution - Graz
EUCEN 42nd Conference Bridging the gaps between learning pathways: the role of universities - Genoa
EUCEN 41st Conference Education as a right - LLL for all - Granada
EUCEN 40th Conference From Rhetoric to Reality - Lille
39th EUCEN Conference Lifelong Learning for the New Decade - Rovaniemi
38th EUCEN Conference Quality and Innovation in Lifelong Learning - meeting the individual demands - Jönköping University
37th EUCEN European Conference Recommendations for universities,
36th EUCEN Conference University Lifelong Learning: Synergy between partners - Tallinn
Founding Meeting: UCE Collaboration & Development- England 4-5 May 1991 - Bristol
Promoting Active Citizenship in Europe- Scotland 5-8 June 2008 - Edinburgh
The University as an International and Regional Actor- Germany 29 November- 1 December 2007 - Hannover
ULLL & the Bologna Process: From Bologna to London...- Slovenia 15-17 March 2007 - Ljubljana
32nd EUCEN Symposium/4º Project Forum. France 16-18 November 2006 - Paris
Universities as a driver for regional development - Poland 18-20 May 2006 - Gdynia
30th EUCEN Symposium - 3rd EUCEN Project Forum- Italy 17-19 November 2005 - Rome
From Bologna to Bergen and Beyond- Norway 28-30 April 2005 - Bergen
28th EUCEN Symposium - 2nd EUCEN Project Forum- Lithuania 4-6 November 2004 - Kaunas
Developing Learning Regions "Thoughts to Actions"- Ireland 9-12 June 2004 - Limerick
Do We Face a Catastrophic Education Bubble?
Antony Davies, writing in US News, argues that when it hits the education bubble will be worse than the housing bubble. Davies analyses the housing crisis thus: The net effect of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was to make lending an essentially risk free business for private banks that could simply pass the risk down the line to government and ultimately the taxpayers. As each loan equals profit, without risk there is no reason to deny loans even to subprime clients without the means or inclination to repay them. This influx of cheap money caused housing prices to soar.
Similar arguments have been made several times recently (such as the Bennett hypothesis and its modern iterations) about the education market and how subsidized loans in many cases just allow colleges to ramp up tuition costs. Davies argues that the creation of Sallie Mae in 1972 was equally misguided social engineering which has only been made worse recently by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 which allows the government to provide loans direct to students and the Taxpayer Relief Act which provided student loan borrowers with tax breaks.
And the price of a college education soared—just as one would expect from a market flooded with cheap money. By law, lenders cannot even deny Stafford and Perkins loans (types of federal student loans) based on the borrower’s credit or employment status. What other reason is there to deny a loan? And just as home buyers took out loans to speculate on houses they could never hope to afford, students are taking out loans to cover educations they often cannot complete and which often do not hold value in the market even when completed. Government meddling has again separated profit from risk. Universities get to keep the tuition profits while taxpayers are forced to shoulder the risk of students not paying back their loans.
The crux of Davies’ argument that the education bubble will be worse is the nature of the good involved. A house owner can sell back their house to free themselves of the debt. It’s difficult to return one’s education to the store. Also, bankruptcy clears mortgage debt, but not student loan debt. Graduates don’t even have that last resort option. There is also the figures:
From 1976 to 2010, the prices of all commodities rose 280 percent. The price of homes rose 400 percent. Private education? A whopping 1,000 percent.
Subprime loans to enable low-income earners to become homeowners and education loans to people unlikely to repay them are similar situations. In both the government engineered a situation whereby loans where granted that would not have been made by choice. Davies’ solution is simple. If we wish to avoid further bubbles then all the government has to do is not interfere.
Améliorer le recours aux droits sociaux des jeunes
Victime d’une précarisation croissante, la jeunesse semble être devenue le catalyseur des problèmes sociaux les plus urgents. Progression du taux de pauvreté, mal logement ou difficultés croissantes dans l’accès aux soins (un jeune sur six n’a pas de complémentaire santé) constituent les bases d’une situation sociale aujourd’hui préoccupante. Fer de lance du quinquennat qui débute, la jeunesse est un enjeu national auquel le CESE, par sa section des affaires sociales et de la santé, souhaite apporter son expertise.
L’avis de la section des affaires sociales et de la santé, « Droits formels/droits réels: améliorer le recours aux droits sociaux des jeunes », rapporté par Antoine Dulin (groupe des organisations étudiantes et mouvements de la jeunesse), a été voté ce jour en séance plénière avec 205 votants, 65 abstentions et 120 pour et 20 contre.
Droits formels/droits réels: améliorer le recours aux droits sociaux des jeunes
Victime d’une précarisation croissante, la jeunesse semble être devenue le catalyseur des problèmes sociaux les plus urgents. Progression du taux de pauvreté, mal logement ou difficultés croissantes dans l’accès aux soins (un jeune sur six n’a pas de complémentaire santé) constituent les bases d’une situation sociale aujourd’hui préoccupante. Fer de lance du quinquennat qui débute, la jeunesse est un enjeu national auquel le CESE, par sa section des affaires sociales et de la santé, souhaite apporter son expertise. L’avis de la section des affaires sociales et de la santé, « Droits formels/droits réels: améliorer le recours aux droits sociaux des jeunes », rapporté par Antoine Dulin (groupe des organisations étudiantes et mouvements de la jeunesse), a été voté ce jour en séance plénière avec 205 votants, 65 abstentions et 120 pour et 20 contre. Peu explorée, la question de l’accès des jeunes à leurs droits sociaux devient un impératif. Comme le souligne Antoine Dulin, rapporteur de cet avis, « sa réorganisation et son renforcement constitue un moyen pérenne d’améliorer les conditions de vie de près de 18.4% de la population ». D’autant que la jeunesse apparaît comme la grande absente de notre système de protection sociale: « on assiste à l’émergence d’une nouvelle période dans notre système de protection sociale, qui succède à l’enfance et précède l’entrée dans la vie active. Il est temps que notre système le prenne en compte et adapte ses dispositifs » ajoute Antoine Dulin. L’avis dresse ici le bilan d’une jeunesse fragilisée par une précarité aux multiples expressions. En effet, comme l’explique Antoine Dulin, « l’accès au travail devient plus aléatoire pour beaucoup de jeunes. En 2010, le taux de chômage des jeunes actifs de moins de 25 ans s’élevait à 20% voire 40% dans les zones urbaines sensibles. L’âge moyen d’accès au premier CDI se situe désormais à 27 ans. Une situation problématique, conduisant souvent ces jeunes adultes à une dépendance financière croissante vis-à-vis de leurs parents. Or, les solidarités familiales par définition sont inégales d’un jeune à l’autre. Ce système favorise donc la reproduction sociale sans parvenir à lutter contre les inégalités ». La fréquence des changements de statuts des jeunes, la variabilité des critères d’âge et la multiplicité des acteurs impliqués dans la gestion des dispositifs contribuent à l’illisibilité du système. Du conseil régional au centre communal d’action sociale, en passant par les missions locales et les centres régionaux des oeuvres universitaires et scolaires, ce « millefeuille de dispositifs », comme le caractérise Antoine Dulin, perd en efficacité. Cet avis propose ainsi de rénover la gouvernance nationale et territoriale des politiques de jeunesse, prônant par exemple de renforcer la coordination des acteurs au niveau national et territorial, notamment au sein d’un même bassin de vie. Par ailleurs, « l’amélioration de l’accès des jeunes à leurs droits sociaux ne deviendra efficiente que par la structuration d’un service public de l’information et de l’accompagnement, ainsi que par un renforcement des missions locales et de leur rôle d’orientation et d’écoute » ajoute Antoine Dulin. Une approche globale de l’insertion est nécessaire et l’accompagnement vers l’emploi ne peut être distinct des enjeux de santé et de logement.
Comme l’explique Antoine Dulin, « l’historique des différents dispositifs illustre la volonté des pouvoirs publics de répondre aux difficultés d’insertion professionnelle des jeunes. Cependant, s’ils ont été une réponse à un instant « t », ils ne sont plus adaptés aujourd’hui aux évolutions de la société et de la jeunesse. » L’avis souligne les réponses ponctuelles apportées, et notamment l’augmentation des aides aux familles ou l’extension des bénéficiaires des aides au logement. En dépit de ces efforts, le résultat reste contrasté. « Les contrats d’insertion dans la vie sociale, le fonds d’aide aux jeunes ainsi que les bourses sont des outils pertinents, mais sous dimensionnés par rapport à la demande. Leur mode d’attribution les rapproche par ailleurs davantage de dispositifs mobilisables pour certains que de droits garantis » précise Antoine Dulin. A ces dispositifs nationaux s’ajoutent diverses mesures mises en place par les collectivités et dont le recensement reste difficile. Face à ce constat, l’avis préconise de favoriser l’implication des jeunes dans la définition, la mise en oeuvre et l’évaluation des politiques de jeunesse. La création d’un conseil d’orientation pour les politiques de jeunesse mais surtout l’intégration des représentants des organisations étudiantes et des mouvements de jeunesse dans les Conseils économiques, sociaux et environnementaux régionaux devient primordial. L’insertion des jeunes, par essence progressive, se doit d’être sécurisée. Des simplifications réglementaires concernant la CMU pourraient être proposées et le chèque santé généralisé. En matière de logement, le CESE propose notamment la mise en place d’un système de cautionnement solidaire unique et obligatoire et un renforcement des structures d’hébergement. Enfin, l’amélioration de l’accès à la formation et l’emploi passe par un redéploiement des différentes aides. « C’est en abondant les financements du contrat d’insertion dans la vie sociale, en assouplissant les conditions d’accès au RSA, aujourd’hui extrêmement restreint pour les moins de 25 ans, mais aussi et surtout en instaurant un droit à la qualification et à a formation tout au long de la vie assorti d’une allocation, que la jeunesse entrera dans une dynamique positive » conclut Antoine Dulin.
L’avis de la section des affaires sociales et de la santé a été voté ce jour en séance plénière avec 205 votants, 65 abstentions et 120 pour et 20 contre. Contacts presse: Sylvaine COULEUR 01.44.69.54.05 06.99.37.63.48, firstname.lastname@example.org; Charles SAVREUX 01.44.69.54.12 07.77.26.24.60, email@example.com.
Victim of a growing struggle, the youth seems to have become the catalyst of the most pressing social problems. Increase the rate of poverty, poor housing or increasing difficulties in accessing care (one in six has no complementary health) are the foundations of a social concern today. Spearheading the five year period that begins , youth is a national issue which the EESC, through its Division of Social Affairs and Health, wishes to contribute its expertise. More...