The Commission's amending budget proposal highlights a €180 million deficit in the Lifelong Learning Programme budget, with €90 million needed to meet commitments to Erasmus students, as well as a shortfall of €102 million for researchers supported by the Marie Curie Actions. The Erasmus programme enables students in higher education to spend between 3 and 12 months in another European country – either for studies or for a placement in a company or other organisation. Any student enrolled in a participating higher education institution in one of the 33 Erasmus countries can benefit (EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). Erasmus is a part of the EU's Lifelong Learning programme and accounts for more than 40% of its budget. The Lifelong Learning programme also covers the Leonardo da Vinci programme (vocational education and training, at least 25% of the budget), the Comenius programme (school education, at least 13% of the budget) and the Grundtvig programme (adult education, at least 4% of the budget). What is the origin of the current funding problem for Erasmus?
The European Commission's proposal for the overall EU budget for 2012 amounted to €132.7 billion. However, the final budget, agreed by Member States and the European Parliament, was €129.1 billion. The 2012 budget also had to cover some €5 billion in unpaid bills held over from the previous 2011 EU budget, which was also underfunded. The Commission, the Council and Parliament agreed to take stock of budget implementation in the course of 2012 to see if additional funding would be necessary. The three institutions have been in regular contact regarding funding shortfalls affecting numerous programmes, however they have not reached an agreement. The 'amending' budget proposed on 23 October aims to bridge the deficits.
Will Erasmus run out of money before the end of 2012?
No. The European Commission has transferred 70% of Erasmus funding for the 2012-2013 academic year to national agencies in the participating countries, which distribute the money to universities and students. So during the current semester, up to the end of the year, there should be no problem in paying Erasmus grants to students who are going abroad for a study period or job placement.
Have students who went abroad between January and September 2012 received their grants?
Yes, if they have completed their exchange and submitted reports to their university, showing they completed their study period or placement. In this case, they will have received 100% of their grants. These grants are not affected by the current budget squeeze since national agencies, and as a consequence universities and vocational institutes, already received the necessary funding for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Will Erasmus students who go abroad between October 2012 and February 2013 receive a lower grant than they expected?
Students who go abroad in the first semester of the 2012-2013 academic year should not have a problem. However, if the shortfall in the 2012 EU budget is not resolved, funds from the 2013 budget will have to be used to cover the gap. Faced with the prospect of a continuing shortage of funds, universities and colleges are likely either to reduce the number of places they make available for the second semester of the 2012-2013 year, or to reduce the level of grants - which is likely to mean that students from more disadvantaged backgrounds will not able to take part in the scheme. If the full funding is made available, the Commission envisages that around 270 000 students will benefit from the Erasmus programme in 2012-2013.
How much has the Commission paid to national agencies so far? What is the shortfall?
The Commission has already transferred around 99% of the 2012 budget for the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), which covers Erasmus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig. In total, it has transferred €925 million to national agencies in the participating countries and to the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) which runs part of the LLP. Around 45% of this sum is earmarked for Erasmus grants. The deficit in the 2012 budget means that the Commission has not been able to reimburse payment claims from national agencies for LLP grants totalling some €160 million.
The claims have been filed by the following national agencies: Austria €6.3 million, Belgium (French-speaking community) €3 million, Belgium (Dutch-speaking community) €4.7 million, Czech Republic €7.2 million, Estonia €2.8 million, Germany (Leonardo and Grundtvig) €14.5 million, Germany (Erasmus) €11.3 million, Germany (Comenius) €5.9 million, Ireland (Erasmus) €1.3 million, Ireland (Leonardo, Comenius and Grundtvig) €0.9 million, Italy €23.7 million, Latvia €3.7 million, Lithuania €4.3 million, Poland €29.5 million, Romania €12.9 million, Slovakia €5 million, Slovenia €2.7 million and UK (Erasmus and Comenius) €19.2 million.
The Commission also expects to receive further payment requests totalling around €60 million before the end of the year. The national agencies expected to present a payment request are Belgium (German-speaking community), Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. The Commission will not be able to meet these payment demands either unless the EU budget receives an injection of funds, or only in 2013 when the new budget is available. Non-EU countries participating in Erasmus and its sister programmes pay to be part of the scheme.
What is the Commission doing to solve the problem?
The deficits concern practically all headings of the EU budget. The Commission is doing what it can to manage the situation, including proposing the transfer of any funds which will not be used elsewhere. This so-called 'Global Transfer proposal' has been proposed by the Commission and is now under discussion by Parliament and Council. This year, however, the sources which can be transferred amount to less than €500 million in total for all areas, which is not enough. That is why the Commission has asked the budgetary authority (European Parliament and Member States) to urgently increase their payments into the 2012 budget.
What will happen if Member States fail to make up the deficit?
The implementation of the Lifelong Learning Programme will be put at risk if Member States and the European Parliament do not agree on additional payments into the budget. It is expected that the first areas to be hit will be cooperation projects involving schools, adults and vocational training, while it will not be possible to pay Erasmus students and Leonardo Da Vinci apprentices the level of grants they expected. If the shortage of funding continues it could in some cases also affect the salaries of staff in the national agencies. The situation will initially improve in 2013 when funding from the new yearly budget is available. The Commission has proposed €1.09 billion in payments to support the Lifelong Learning Programme next year, of which roughly €490 million would be spent on Erasmus grants for students and staff on exchanges. But, if the Member States fail to make up the shortfall from 2012 (at least €180 million), the 2013 budget will be partially used to cover this negative balance and it is likely that it will have been totally used by mid-2013 – so even bigger problems are to be expected after that.
What part of EU budget goes to the Lifelong Learning programme?
The total EU budget 2007-2013 was €975 billion in current prices. The Lifelong Learning programme is €7 billion which represents 0.71%. The current shortfall for the LLP is about €180 million. The total proposed EU budget 2014-2020 is in current prices €1.156 trillion. The budget proposed for the future Erasmus for All programme is €19 billion, which represents 1.64% of this total.
How much does the EU spend on the Erasmus programme and how is it distributed?
In the current budgetary period (2007-13) the EU has allocated €3.1 billion for the Erasmus programme. In 2012 the allocation is €480 million and the estimate for 2013 is €490 million (see table below). This represents around 0.35% of the EU budget. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the number of Erasmus students since the launch of the scheme 25 years ago will reach 3 million. The EU provides annual grants to national agencies in the 33 participating countries. National agencies are responsible for organising calls for proposals and for signing grant agreements with universities, schools, colleges and other educational institutions in their country. Students apply for an Erasmus grants through their home university which is responsible for paying them the agreed grant.
The overall Erasmus budget for student and staff mobility is allocated to different countries on the basis of the following factors:
Population: number of students, graduates and teachers in higher education (level 5-6 of the International standard classification of education, ISCED). Data is provided by Eurostat.
Cost of living and distance between capital cities: used as corrective factors, applied to the population factor.
Past performance indicator: calculated on the basis of the number of outbound staff and students in the past (using the latest available data).
Nearly 90% of the Erasmus budget is invested in student and staff mobility. Erasmus also supports cooperation projects and networks which account for around 4% of the budget. These are managed centrally by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) in Brussels. The remaining 6% of the Erasmus budget covers the operating costs of the agencies (average of 4.4%) and other actions including studies, conferences, university-business cooperation, Bologna secretariat, as well as preparatory work for the new university multidimensional ranking system.
More on Erasmus decentralised funds allocated to National Agencies...
For more information
Erasmus hits new record with 8.5% increase in student exchanges (IP/12/454)
More about the Erasmus programme and the Lifelong learning programme
Erasmus facts and figures [brochure]
This new Eurydice report traces the context and organisation of foreign language teaching, student participation levels, as well as the initial and continuing education of foreign language teachers. Download Key Data on Teaching Languages at School and Highlights of Key Data on Teaching Languages at School.
Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012 provides a complete picture of the language teaching systems in place in 32 European countries. More precisely, the report combines statistical data with qualitative information to describe the context and organisation of foreign language teaching, student participation levels as well as the initial and continuing education of foreign language teachers. In addition to giving a snapshot of the situation today, the report also presents several time series which are particularly helpful in identifying trends in language teaching over recent years and past decades.
The 61 indicators contained in the report are mainly drawn from four distinct sources: Eurydice, Eurostat, the European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC), and the OECD's PISA 2009 international survey. By combining these sources, Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012 provides comprehensive information that can serve to improve the quality and efficiency of language learning across Europe. Improving language learning has not only become one of the key objectives of the strategic framework for Education and Training (ET 2020), but also a means to facilitate cross-border mobility of EU citizens as highlighted in the European Union's overall strategy – 'Europe 2020'.
Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012 is a joint Eurydice/Eurostat publication and has been produced in close cooperation with the European Commission. Reference years and country coverage of the report depend on the data source. Eurydice data cover all countries of the European Union as well as countries of the European Economic Area, Croatia, and Turkey, and take the reference year 2010/11. Eurydice indicators mainly provide insight into the policies and recommendations in place in European countries which influence foreign language teaching. Key Data indicators derived from the ESLC 2011 survey cover 15 education systems. Eurostat has the same country coverage as Eurydice, but its data take the reference year 2009/10.
This leaflet provides a glance of some of the report's key findings.
What is Eurydice
The Eurydice Network provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. As of 2011, it consists of 38 national units based in all 34 countries participating in the EU's Lifelong Learning programme (EU Member States, EFTA countries, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey) and is coordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which drafts its publications and databases...
ENGLISH IS BY FAR THE DOMINATING FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN EUROPE
English is by far the most taught foreign language in nearly all countries, starting at primary level. Trends since 2004/05 show an increase in the percentage of students learning English at all educational levels. In 2009/10, on average, 73% of students enrolled in primary education in the EU were learning English.
In lower secondary and general upper secondary education, the percentage exceeded 90%. In upper secondary prevocational and vocational education, it reached 74.9%. Overall, English is a mandatory language in 14 countries or regions within countries.
In most countries, English is followed by either German or French as the second most widely taught foreign language. Spanish occupies the position of the third or fourth most widely taught foreign language in a significant number of countries, especially at upper secondary level.
The same goes for Italian but in a smaller number of countries. Russian is the second most widely taught foreign language in Latvia and Lithuania where large communities of Russian speakers live, and also in Bulgaria in lower secondary education.
VERY FEW STUDENTS LEARN LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH, FRENCH, SPANISH, GERMAN OR RUSSIAN
In 2009/10, the percentage of students learning languages other than English, French, Spanish, German or Russian was below 5% in most countries, and in a significant number the percentage was less than 1%.
The countries with the highest percentages of students learning a language other than the main five were those where the alternative language was a mandatory language. These included Swedish or Finnish in Finland and Danish in Iceland...
THE COMMON EUROPEAN REFERENCE FRAMEWORK (CEFR) IS BECOMING A MAIN TOOL FOR DEFINING STUDENT ATTAINEMENT LEVELS
In the majority of European countries, official guidelines for language teaching fix minimum attainment levels for both the first and the second foreign languages. These levels correspond to the six proficiency levels defined by the Common European Framework of Reference published by the Council of Europe in 2001.
The CEFR defines six levels of proficiency (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), where A corresponds to basic user, B to independent user and C to proficient user. At the end of compulsory general education, official guidelines in most countries set the minimum level between A2 and B1 for the first foreign language and between A1 and B1 for the second...Download Key Data on Teaching Languages at School.
EQAR allows quality assurance agencies to demonstrate their reliability and accountability at European level.
Inclusion on the register is decided based on an external review by independent experts that evidences a quality assurance agency's substantial compliance with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education that were agreed by European ministers of higher education in 2005.
Such a review can be organised nationally or coordinated by another organisation independent of the reviewed quality assurance agency.
The next EQAR Register Committee meeting will take place on 1/2 December 2012. Applications by quality assurance agencies for inclusion on the Register have to reach the Secretariat by Sunday 7 October 2012 at the latest to be considered at that meeting.
Guide for Applicants
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
General information on EQAR
Information on applications for inclusion.
ETF project on matching skills
The conference was organised in the context of an ETF project supporting the partner countries in the area of skills matching. The ETF, in cooperation with Cedefop and the International Labour Office (ILO), is producing a number of practice-oriented guides that will help developing and transition countries use various methods of anticipating, forecasting and matching the demand and supply of skills. At the meeting, delegates from Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine and several international experts discussed and validated the first drafts and concepts of the methodological guides.
Why methodological guides?
Timo Kuusela, who leads the project at the ETF, said the idea of the methodological guides came from a research the ETF did in ten of its partner countries.
‘There is data available, different kind of surveys are conducted in these countries, but there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding on the methodologies and what kind of problems they can address,’ said Mr Kuusela. ‘So, we concluded that it made sense to develop a set of tools for handling the anticipation, forecasting, matching of skills.’
The guides deal with the issues like mid- and long-term forecasting or how to use labour-market information to analyse skills mismatch.
What are skills mismatches?
Skills mismatches are gaps or imbalances of skills, knowledge or competences. When there are skills shortages firms have trouble obtaining workers with the required competences. Skill surpluses, caused by over-education or over-qualification, are waste of valuable human resources.
‘ETF partner countries face continuous uncertainties on the labour market due to large informal sectors, ongoing restructuring of economy, said Mr Mendes. ‘They require new knowledge and intelligence on how to modernise their education and training provision to meet the demand of the labour market.’
The mismatch in ETF partner countries
Sanja Crnković-Pozaić, advisor to the Croatia’s Minister of Labour and Pension System, said her country had large surpluses of skills in certain areas, and at the same time experiences total lack of skills in other areas.
‘Sometimes you have very strange situations, where, for example, in textiles, a declining industry, you don’t have enough people to work, because it has become such an unattractive area and the wages are low, said Ms Crnković-Pozaić.
‘On the other hand, you have areas where you have absolutely too many people, like in economics, especially on vocational education level. These mismatches are particularly evident on the regional level, but on the national level they even out.
Who will benefit from the project?
The methodological guides developed by ETF project are mainly for policymakers, but they may also be useful for employers, who want to analyse their own sectors, and for training providers, who need to follow the demand for training in the expanding sectors.
Building on an already established cooperation framework for lifelong entrepreneurial learning, ministers from the EU pre-accession countries of South Eastern Europe and Turkey reconfirmed their commitment to lifelong entrepreneurial learning.
At the summit called by the Croatian government on 23 October, all eight countries signed a charter committing the countries to continued cooperation and support for entrepreneurship promotion across all levels of education.
Charter for Entrepreneurial Learning: the keystone for growth and jobs
The Charter builds on an existing cooperation framework provided by the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, where each country’s education and economy ministries are represented. Through the Charter the countries will reinforce commitment to systemic developments in lifelong entrepreneurial learning through continued policy improvement, good practice sharing and regional cooperation.
A centrepiece of the pre-accessions region’s ‘growth and jobs’ agenda
In his opening address, Niven Mimica, Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister set the context for the summit.
‘Faced with a continuing global crisis we must work together to head off the challenges to our economies,’ said Mimica, He added: ‘our common European future requires us to work towards the EU 2020 objectives of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth.’
The meeting was chaired by Gordan Maras, Croatian Minister for Entrepreneurship and Crafts, who stressed the importance of education-economy cooperation for enhanced growth and jobs. The point was reinforced by Croatia’s education minister, Zlejko Jovanovic.
Achievements and challenges
The summit heard from a range of high-level officials from the European Commission who joined the proceedings. Pierre Mairesse, representing the European Commission’s education services, congratulated all signatory countries of the Charter. ‘The European Union shares the principles of the Charter,’ he said.
Marko Curavic of the Commission’s enterprise directorate warned delegates that ‘there are no shortcuts to building an entrepreneurial learning eco-system.’ He underlined the need for sustained investment in training of teachers, which the entrepreneurial learning agenda requires. Bo Caperman from the Commission’s enlargement services commended the countries for the excellent cooperation and achievements.
The ETF was represented by its Director Madlen Serban. ‘The signing of the Charter is an historic moment for the region,’ said Serban.
A report on postgraduate education by the Higher Education Commission was launched today. The report, ‘Postgraduate Education: An Independent Inquiry by the Higher Education Commission’, makes an interesting and useful contribution to the postgraduate debate. HEFCE provided evidence to the inquiry and has informed the Higher Education Commission about our enhanced work in this area. HEFCE has supported the development of a diverse and successful postgraduate sector, including through additional funding of more than £200 million for taught and research programmes between 2012-13 and 2014-15. As the report highlights, we are undertaking research on postgraduate activity. This is intended to inform discussions with Government, the higher education sector and other stakeholders on the approach to postgraduate funding from 2015-16, the first year in which higher fee-paying students may enter postgraduate study.
The research HEFCE is undertaking includes work on:
- establishing the costs of and fees charged for of postgraduate study
- investigating the information needs of current and potential postgraduate students
- improving understanding of demand for postgraduate study from final year undergraduates before and after the undergraduate reforms, through a survey linked to the National Student Survey
- identifying issues around widening participation and access for postgraduate students, including transition rates from undergraduate to postgraduate study for different socioeconomic groups
- working with Research Councils UK and Universities UK on the outcomes of postgraduate study, such as employability and workplace impact, and on issues of research quality such as those identified in the report.
This tripartite Cyprus presidency conference is organised by the Department of Labour - Cyprus Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.
One of the aims of the conference is to highlight practices and measures which enterprises may implement in order to eliminate the gender pay gap and promote the principle of equal pay between men and women.
Government officials and representatives from employers’ and workers’ organisations from the Member States of the European Union will have the opportunity to discuss remaining challenges and identify best practices in the area.
Occupational segregation: Impacts on female and male workers, by Isabella Biletta
Occupational segregation is a well-known and persistent feature of European labour markets. It is mainly associated to female workers’ behaviour on the labour markets; their positioning is assumed to be ‘specific’. The impacts of occupational segregation on work, for both men and women, are significant. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that what occurs in labour markets almost mirrors the way society is organised; therefore, societal path-dependency should not be overlooked when addressing occupational segregation and other gender issues on the labour market. Overall, gender issues are still challenging social partners views and actions.
Promoting income transparency through social dialogue in Austria, by Christine Aumayr-Pintar
The presentation will focus on the recent policy developments in Austria with regard to creating income transparency as one means of reducing the gender pay gap. It will feature in particular the new instrument of ‘income policy reports’, which in a step-by-step procedure from 2011 – 2014 has to be carried out by companies of different sizes. Finally it will look at the social partners’ concrete actions in supporting implementation of this policy.
The annual conference of the Asian Association for Open Universities (AAOU) took place from 16–18 October in Chiba, Japan, and was attended by more than 300 open university presidents, administrators, teachers and researchers. Open Universities are among the largest global providers of learning opportunities in adult education and lifelong learning. A large number of their adult students are professional teachers seeking continuing education and new subject knowledge for career development or to improve the quality of their teaching. The 52 members of AAOU have a combined student body of over 12 million, while three open universities have enrolments of more than 2 million students each.
The conference focused on the issue of Open Educational Resources (OER). Many open universities in Asia are already engaging with OER, by making learning materials available online free of charge, and collecting and collating existing free online material. These practices have reduced student costs considerably.
In his keynote speech, Mr. Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), focused on the role of open universities in lifelong learning for all, particularly in relation to inclusion and sustainable development. He referenced the Paris Declaration on OER, adopted at the World Conference on OER, which was organised by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning in June 2012. In another keynote speech, the President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, Ms. Asha Kanwar, invoked many cases of OER at the global level. Ms. Kanwar also spoke about Mass Online Open Courses (MOOCs), and presented an example of a MOOC involving more than 160,000 participants.
The National Agency for the European Lifelong Learning Programme, ANEFORE, and the Ministry of Education and Training in Luxembourg, have worked together for more than a year to produce a white book on “Defining a Lifelong Learning Strategy for Luxembourg”. This process has involved consultations with all major stakeholders. The result is a stocktaking of the current situation under seven headings: provision, access, quality, competences, mobility, certification, and guidance counselling. The white book concludes with a proposal for a strategy.
The launch of the white book took the form of a 2-hour conference on 10 June 2012, which was attended by 80 key stakeholders, most importantly Luxembourg’s Minister of Education and Training, as well as various directors of ministries, trade unions, chambers of commerce and industry, and of education institutions. The conference was opened by the Director of ANEFORE, Ms Karin Pundel, and the keynote speech on “The Importance of a Strategy for Lifelong Learning” was given by Mr Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). Mr Carlsen spoke about the development of the concept of lifelong learning, its implementation in Europe, the justification for a strategy, the role of major stakeholders, state, enterprises and social partners, and key elements of strategies in other European countries.
Mr Carlsen’s keynote speech was followed by a presentation on Luxembourg’s upcoming Lifelong Learning Strategy, by the Minister of Education and Training, Ms Mady Delvaux-Stehres. In her presentation the Minister referred to inspiration from UNESCO in relation to the social dimensions of lifelong learning, and commented that Luxembourg in its first steps had focussed primarily on the economic dimension. For more information please visit http://www.s3l.lu/default.aspx
The University of Pécs in Hungary is the only university in Europe with a Faculty of Adult Education and Human Resources Development. It also has the largest student body of any university faculty of adult education, with a total of 1,602 students of adult education alone This faculty therefore has a strong influence on adult education research, not only in Hungary, but throughout Europe. Following the launch of the EU’s 2020 Strategy for Growth and the Revised European Agenda for Adult Learning in spring 2012, the Faculty is now looking to Asia and to UNESCO in order to expand its international profile and develop a new European research agenda for lifelong learning. It therefore hosted, in partnership with Europe Direct Info Point Europe of Baranya County a conference entitled “Adult Learning and Education in Europe – Promoting the EU 2020 and the UNESCO UIL goals in the scope of the ASEM partnership” from 5─6 June 2012.
The conference was attended by 80 university lecturers and researchers. In his keynote speech, Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), made reference to Hungary hosting the CONFINTEA VI preparatory conference for Europe. He highlighted the human rights basis of UNESCO’s work, its humanistic values, and relevant responses to new trends and developments in the world. He pointed to the enlarged roles of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education in relation to lifelong learning, and to the growing need for research within and outside the education sector, as the understanding of learning expands. He envisaged a situation in which functional literacy would re-emerge as a major issue in Europe, which could lead to a new and more universal literacy agenda, in which developed and developing countries can meet.
Presentations by Mr Uwe Gartenschlaeger, Vice-director of the German Adult Education Association (DVV), and by Heribert Hinzen, DVV’s Regional Director for South and South-East Asia, focused on the civil society view of EU2020, and on cooperation between Europe and Asia in the field of adult education and lifelong learning. The organiser of the event, Mr Balazs Nemeth, ended the conference with a presentation on “Adult Learning and Social Democracy”.
More information on the conference can be found at http://hrdconf-pecs2010.eu/?page_id=7.