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Parliament hopes for compromise on education programme budgets

In two moves aimed at extending opportunities for Europe's students, the European Parliament has agreed to the proposed budget for the EU's eLearning programme, and has adopted a resolution on university exchanges with non-EU countries. The budget for the eLearning programme ...

In two moves aimed at extending opportunities for Europe's students, the European Parliament has agreed to the proposed budget for the EU's eLearning programme, and has adopted a resolution on university exchanges with non-EU countries. The budget for the eLearning programme has been a source of contention for the EU institutions. The Commission originally proposed a budget of 36 million euro, a figure deemed far too low by the Parliament, which requested 54 million euro. The Council, on the other hand, proposed that the budget be less than that proposed by the Commission. The compromise figure of 44 million euro is believed to be acceptable to all parties. The overall aim of the eLearning programme is to encourage the integration of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) into European education and training systems, thereby improving their quality and accessibility. Erasmus Mundus is an extension of the existing Erasmus programme, and will promote exchanges between students at universities and higher education establishments in the EU and third countries. The programme will run from 1 January 2004 until the end of 2008. The budget has yet to be finalised, again following disagreement between the EU institutions on an appropriate allocation. The Parliament awaits the Council's decision on a compromise figure of 230 million euro. The programme will provide grants for more than 4,000 postgraduate students from non-EU and EU accession countries, as well as 1,000 academics. MEPs would like courses to involve exposure to at least two EU languages, and envisage students attending several different universities around Europe.