Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Programme for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries (Erasmus World) (2004-2008)

Programme funding

EUR 200 million
The programme's overall aim is to contribute to quality education in the European Union, in particular by fostering cooperation with third countries. It aims to better prepare citizens in Europe, and partner third countries, to live and work in a global, knowledge-based society and seeks to improve mutual understanding between peoples and cultures, thus contributing to world peace and stability. It seeks to ensure Europe's position as a pole of excellence in higher education and, therefore, to ensure that higher education in Europe becomes an increasingly more attractive destination world-wide.


In order to achieve these general objectives, the direct and short-term effects sought by the programme can be grouped as follows:
- The emergence of a distinctly European offer in higher education;
- A higher profile for, visibility of and improved accessibility;
- A greater world-wide interest in and more concrete possibilities for acquiring European qualifications;
- More structured cooperation between European Community and third country institutions;

_ European Union Masters Courses.
Concentrating on the post-graduate level is a deliberate operational choice that can be justified for the following main reasons:
- Factors such as, inter alia, the structure of degrees, complexity of curricula and the use of language;
- The Community could not support significant numbers of third country students for a three to six year period of undergraduate study;
- The value-added of Community intervention could be maximal at post-graduate level (Masters) since it would contribute to the development of the degree structure favoured by the Bologna/Prague process; - International mobility is proportionately higher at postgraduate (Masters) level than at undergraduate level;
- In practical terms, working with students at post-graduate level provides an insurance against failure as the student has proved during undergraduate study his or her abilities.
The programme must be seen as an internal policy instrument and therefore the actions above will be funded from Chapter Three of the Community Budget.

At present there are a number of programmes which may address the needs identified in this programme, (eg Socrates and Tempus) however none of these instruments, most of which have been in place for a number of years, provide an adequate framework to address appropriately these needs. Socrates does not support the creation of a European masters course and is relevant for only a specific set of countries set out in the council decision. While there is an important degree of reciprocal benefit in programmes like Tempus, Alfa or Asia-Link, their primary aim is to promote regional and multilateral networking as a means to foster know-how transfer and sustainable cooperation. The present programme's main concern is with higher education in Europe and, while third country nationals and institutions will certainly benefit from their involvement in the programme, the programme has to be seen as a tool primarily serving Community interests. This programme complements rather than duplicates other external cooperation programmes.


The programme's overall and specific objectives will be achieved through the following actions:

_ European Union Masters Courses;
The Community will identify and grant European postgraduate courses the label of 'European Union Masters Courses' through a rigorous selection process. European Union Masters Courses will be selected for a five-year period, subject to a light-weight annual renewal procedure based on progress reporting, which period could include a year's preparatory activities before the actual course begins to run. Funding would be subject to the annual renewal procedure.

_ A Scholarship scheme;
The Community will establish a single, global scholarship scheme targeted at the best qualified third country graduate students and scholars. Scholarships will be open to third country students and scholars without any precondition for participation other than the existence of relations between the European Union and the country of origin of the students and scholars in question. Participation of women and less-advantaged students from these countries will be encouraged.
- Action 2.1: Global Student Scheme
The Community may provide financial support to third country students who have been admitted, through a competitive process, to European Union Masters Courses.
- Action 2.2: Visiting Scholar Scheme
The Community shall provide financial support to third country scholars visiting the European Union Masters Courses, with a view to carrying out teaching and research assignments and scholarly work in the institutions participating in European Union Masters Courses.

_ Partnerships with third country higher education institutions;
The Community will support structured relations between European Union Masters Courses and third country higher education institutions. Priority will be given to institutions sufficiently well-developed to be able to cooperate on an equal footing. Partnerships will provide the framework for outgoing mobility of European Union students and scholars involved in the European Union Masters Courses. Partnerships will serve to develop, whenever possible, institutionalised networks, based on structured and sustainable cooperation designed to contribute to the development of local capacity through the transfer of know-how.

_ Enhancing the attractiveness of Europe as an educational destination;
Through this action, the Community shall support activities aimed at enhancing the profile and visibility of, and accessibility to, European education. The Community shall also support complementary activities that contribute to the objectives of this programme.
- Support for joint promotional actions
The Community will provide support to higher education institutions and public non-profit making organisations working towards the promotion of European higher education abroad. Promotional activities shall seek to establish links between higher education and research, and exploit whenever possible potential synergies.
- Support for services facilitating access of third country students to European education
The European Community will support collaborative activities aimed at facilitating access to, and encouraging study in, Europe.
- Complementary activities
The Community shall support complementary activities dealing with issues crucial to the internationalisation of higher education. Through this action the Community may support international thematic networks to deal with these issues. The Community may support pilot projects with third countries with a view to developing further cooperation in the field of higher education with the countries in question. The Community may provide, on a pilot basis, scholarships to third country students seeking a postgraduate degree from a European university or a consortium of European universities where no other Community action provides for such financial support, and where complementarity with bilateral schemes at Member State level can be ensured. The Community shall support an Alumni Association of all students (third country and Europeans) graduating from European Union Masters Courses.

_ Technical Support Measures
In carrying out the programme, the Commission may have recourse to experts, to an executive agency, to existing competent agencies in Member States and, if necessary, to other forms of technical assistance, the financing of which may be provided from within the overall financial framework of the programme.


The Commission shall:
- Ensure the implementation of the Community actions covered by this programme;
- Take account of bilateral cooperation with third countries undertaken by Member States;
- Consult the relevant associations and organisations in the field of higher education at European level and shall inform the Committee referred to in Article 8 of their opinions;
- Seek synergies with other intra-Community programmes and actions in the field of higher education and research.

The Member States shall:
- Take the necessary steps to ensure the efficient running of the programme at Member State level involving all the parties concerned in education in accordance with national practice;
- Designate appropriate structures that shall cooperate closely with the Commission; particularly as regards information about the programme;
- Endeavour to adopt such measures as may be deemed appropriate to remove legal and administrative barriers to the effective operation of this programme;
- Take steps to ensure that potential synergies with other Community programmes are achieved at Member State level.

The following measures necessary for the implementation of this programme shall be adopted:
- The annual plan of work, including priorities, and the selection criteria and procedures;
- The general guidelines for implementing the programme;
- The annual budget and the breakdown of funds among the different actions of the programme;
- The arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the programme and for the dissemination and transfer of results.
All other measures necessary shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure.

The Commission shall be assisted by a Committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission. To ensure the consistency of this programme, the Commission shall keep the Committee regularly informed about Community initiatives taken in the fields of education, training and youth, including cooperation with third countries and international organisations. The Commission shall, in cooperation with the Member States, ensure overall consistency and complementarity with other relevant Community policies, instruments and actions, in particular with the sixth framework programme for research and with external cooperation programmes in the field of higher education. The Commission shall ensure efficient linkage and, where appropriate, joint actions, between this programme and the programmes and actions in the area of education undertaken within the framework of the Community's cooperation with third countries, including bilateral agreements, and the competent international organisations.

The Commission shall regularly monitor this programme in cooperation with the Member States. The results of the monitoring and evaluation process shall be utilised when implementing the programme. This programme shall be evaluated regularly by the Commission. This evaluation is intended to assess the relevance, effectiveness and impact of actions implemented with regard to the objectives of the programme. It will also consider the impact of the programme as a whole. Special attention will be paid to gender issues and equity issues, as well as the prevention of brain drain. This evaluation will also examine the complementarity between action under this programme and that pursued under other relevant Community policies, instruments and actions.

The Commission shall submit to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions:
- On the accession of new Member States, a report on the financial consequences of these accessions on the programme, followed, if appropriate, by proposals to deal with the financial consequences of these accessions on the programme;
- An interim evaluation report on the results achieved and on the qualitative aspects of the implementation of this programme by 30 June 2007;
- A communication on the continuation of this programme by 31 December 2007;
- An ex-post evaluation report by 31 December 2009.
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