The findings of the online survey, which the European University Association, EUA has organised on internationalisation has acknowledged that over 50% of European universities already had an internationalisation strategy and more than 90% believed that the EU strategy could bring added value. However, the EU universities need to be prepared to take on educational challenges that go beyond national borders.
At the moment the European Commission is working in the following educational issues:
Labour market and education
European labour market is rapidly changing: it is becoming more and more global, open and competitive. The demand for high skills is growing, and higher education – with its links to research and innovation – has a crucial role to play in equipping students with those skills. “Europe´s growth and prosperity depend on it”, added the Commissioner.
Changing mind set
The internationalisation of higher education is no longer just about students leaving their country to study abroad; it is about a whole change in mind set. Universities need broader strategies that go beyond mobility and cover many other types of academic cooperation such as joint degrees, support for capacity building, joint research projects, and distance learning programs. The concept of "internationalisation at home" is also a key to ensure that the majority (98%) of students, who are not in a position to study abroad, can nevertheless enjoy the benefits associated with international exposure.
Changing the structures
Over the past two decades, EU programs have changed the face of higher education in Europe; for example, the Erasmus Program has been a driving force in making mobility part of the regular academic life of millions of students. It has also been an important catalyst in the reform and internationalisation of higher education systems. It paved the way for the Bologna Process and for associated tools such as learning outcomes, transferability of credits, and the EU-wide transparency and recognition tools; these have all contributed to better understanding and mutual trust between institutions in Europe, and beyond. Other EU programs, like Erasmus Mundus and Tempus, have followed but with a more global outreach.
This high level of educational ambition requires appropriate means. In this regard, the Commission proposed to allocate €17 billion to the new “Erasmus for All” program (an increase of 63.6% based on 2011 prices) including a strong increase for the international dimension of the program; at the same time a 21 per cent increase is proposed for the Marie Curie program.
Besides the budgetary question, another issue is important for non-EU students as choosing the place to study and do research: it is visa regulations; this is also one of the three important factors identified in the survey launched by EUA.
The Commission has launched in spring 2013 an important instrument as part of the EU modernisation agenda of higher education, and also as its internationalisation strategy: the new multidimensional ranking instrument, called U-Multirank.
European indicators for education
Improving the EU’s performance in education is one of the key objectives of the EU- 2020 strategy, adopted by the European Council in June 2010. Targets on education are to increase the proportion of persons having completed tertiary education and to reduce the number of early leavers from education and training.