UA acknowledges that the Commission recognises the importance of education and training in order to deal with the legacy of the economic crisis, and supports the prominent role of education and, particularly, of life-long learning, in the European Pillar of Social Rights. As the labour market is changing, particularly due to the loss of opportunities for mid-skilled labour and increasing demand for high-level skills, the discussion about social rights should not be limited to vocational education, but include inclusive paths to highlevel skills and competences. As EUA has stated in its response to the Renewed Agenda for Higher Education, there is still a need for robust evidence for policies that equip Europe’s citizens for these changes.
EUA also supports other proposals such as the Commission’s ambitions to foster free movement of talent through instruments such as the blue-card, an adequate EU budget and the finalisation of the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) within the mandate of the current Commission and Parliament (2019). This would allow important EU funding programmes such as FP9 and the future Erasmus programme to be up and running as of 2021, and make possible the continued participation of the UK in these programmes.
Last, EUA insists on Europe’s strong asset in terms of soft power, including higher education and research, an aspect which is not mentioned in the work programme. Europe functions as a unique model for international cooperation through the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which provides a formal platform for the whole continent. Exchanges with neighbouring countries alone amount to more than 250,000 students each year. Moreover, Europe contributes in a significant manner to building higher education and research capacity in developing countries. The EU could well use these soft power assets in a more explicit way to become a stronger global actor.
Read the full “EUA response to the European Commission’s Work Programme 2018" for a more detailed analysis.