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Opening up European education to the world - 19/07/2013

Graduates ©iStockphoto

New strategy to ensure Europe attracts international students and gives its own graduates the skills for an international career.

With countries such as China and India modernising their universities and stepping up efforts to attract international students, Europe needs to up its game to remain an attractive destination.

The European Commission’s higher education strategy urges action on 3 fronts:

  • international student and staff exchanges
  • internationalising and improving curricula, including digital learning
  • cooperation, partnerships and capacity building

Studying abroad in numbers

The number of higher education students worldwide is expected to quadruple from around 100m in 2000 to 400m in 2030. The number of students going abroad rises by 7% every year (with major growth in China, India and South Korea). Europe currently attracts around 45% of international students.

The new Erasmus+ programme, due to be launched in January 2014, will increase the number of places at European universities for non-EU students to 135 000 per year – 100 000 more than under the existing Erasmus Mundus programme.

Internationalising at home

But internationalisation should not benefit only the minority of EU students – around 15% – that study abroad. Those staying in their home country should be encouraged to learn foreign languages, have access to staff with international experience, and to international collaboration via online learning.

The Commission is also encouraging universities and colleges to form partnerships within and outside Europe through joint projects and web-based courses – and to tackle the remaining obstacles to joint and double degree programmes.

Partnerships will encourage the mutual recognition of qualifications, attract talented students and increase both the worldliness and employability of European graduates.

While it is each country’s own responsibility to reform its higher education system and embrace internationalisation, the EU will support the process. Between 2014 and 2020, the Erasmus+ programme will invest in mobility, joint degrees, international partnerships and staff development.

More on EU education and training

Facts & Figures: European higher education in the world

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