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ALFA (2000-2005)

Academic Cooperation Programme between
the European Union and Latin America


Official title

ALFA (Academic Education Latin America) Programme


Legal references

  • Council Regulation no. 443/92 of 25 February 1992 relating to financial and technical assistance to and economic cooperation with the countries of Latin America and Asia.
  • Article B7-3011 of the budget.
  • Phase two of the programme: decision of 4 December 1998



ALFA is a programme that is being implemented through networks of higher education institutions. The aim is to:

  • Create and strengthen relations of mutual interest between the higher education institutions of the European Union and Latin America by supporting joint cooperation projects submitted by the academic communities of the two continents.
  • Create systematic cooperation mechanisms for higher education between the two regions by encouraging the creation of permanent exchanges between the two regions and within Latin America itself (EU/LA, LA/LA and LA/EU).


Target public / beneficiaries

Higher education institutions of the Member States of the European Union and the following countries of Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chili, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.



To participate in the ALFA Programme, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • Create a network of at least 6 higher education institutions each belonging to different countries (3 from Latin America and 3 from the European Union), recognised as such in their own country;

  • Each network will be coordinated by one institution, designated as "coordinator" and considered the only member of the network to be the talking partner of the European Commission;

Other institutions may also join the network. These are:

  • adult education or further education centres
  • non-profit making associations
  • public authorities
  • private enterprises.

Private enterprises may not be coordinators and will not be taken into account when calculating the minimum number of institutions participating in the network, nor may they comprise the majority of the network;

Institutions that do not belong to countries eligible under ALFA may only participate as observers and at their own expense.



The Commission has approved the new phase of the programme for a period of six years, beginning in 2000 and ending in 2005.
In the first four years, the new project proposals will be evaluated and accepted. The final two years will be devoted to implementing the projects approved, monitoring their results and performing the final evaluation of the Programme.
Applications must be filed by 30 April and 30 October of each year until 2003, and evaluations are scheduled in June and December respectively for each of the first four years.


Eligible measures / nature of the activities

ALFA consists of two sub-programmes


  • Sub-programme B: SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION: mobility of post-graduates and students / short-term specialised training for researchers

These two programmes support mobility projects concerning experiences and skills in relation to certain aspects of university life, which encourage the participation of women, particularly their presence among those persons involved in the networks of higher education institutions.

Sub-programme A: Cooperation for institutional management
This sub-programme is aimed at developing the management capacity of higher education institutions in the following fields:

    • management of study and educational programmes;
    • management of research;
    • management of evaluation and certification;
    • management of cooperation actions between higher education institutions and industry;
    • administrative management;
    • management of academic and administrative staff;
    • management of services for the academic community;
    • management of activities of academic extension.

For proposals on the theme of "higher education institutions and industry" and the management of services of academic extension, special attention is being given to those proposals which take account of the aspects relating to continuing training.

Activities and duration
The activities eligible in the context of institutional cooperation projects are:

  • elaboration of specific agreements, for example, on the recognition of studies between the network's partner institutions,
  • elaboration of study plans (common or specific),
  • design and elaboration of documents for the management of the institutions,
  • preparation and publication (notably via the Internet) of work undertaken in approved joint projects.

To accomplish the above-mentioned activities, ALFA will part-fund conferences/seminars, study trips or short-term stays.

Generally speaking, the following tangible results are expected:

  • agreements signed between institutions;
  • specific and innovative documents, for example for the management of universities;
  • production and publication of work undertaken in the context of projects.

All the activities of this sub-programme are reserved for administrators and members of the teaching faculty with management responsibilities in the institutions where they work. The activities of this sub-programme are for a maximum period of two years.


Sub-programme B: scientific and technical training: mobility of post-graduates and students, short-term training for researchers
This sub-programme aims to take advantage of and better respond to the requests for specialised training from one region or another, through the activities that facilitate the two-way mobility of post-graduates and students between the institutions of the European Union and Latin America or between the countries of Latin America that are beneficiaries of the programme.

Scientific fields receiving priority

  • Medicine and other health sciences
  • Engineering
  • Economics and the social sciences in general

The following activities are being supported:

  • creation of frameworks to organise the transatlantic mobility of students, notably traineeships, which will offer adequate language preparation and full recognition of degrees,

  • preparation of structured exchanges of students, professors, instructors in higher education institutions and vocational training schools, including traineeships.

  • secondments for research in university, industrial or government laboratories, for graduates or students, provided that the students are also enrolled in courses requiring their presence in class,

  • short, intensive programmes, with stays of up to three months,

  • other innovative projects, notably the utilisation of new technologies and distance education (i.e. virtual mobility), which aim to improve the quality and cost-benefit ratio of transatlantic cooperation in higher education and vocational education and training.

For the above-mentioned activities, this programme awards partial and/or complementary mobility grants for different cycles of training:

  • Advanced training: Stays of 6 to 20 months per grant holder.
  • Complementary training: Stays of 6 to 10 months.
  • Short-term training: Stays of up to 3 months.
  • Research training: Stays of up to 6 months.


Nature and amount of aid

The Commission funding is partial and the participating institutions must provide for at least 25% of the total cost of each project.


European Union financial contribution

The budget for all the projects combined amounts to 42 million euros. For each round of evaluation, the Commission is expected to approve in total 8,300,000 euros worth of projects.



The Directorate-General for External Relations (EuropAid / Directorate Latin America) is responsible for the programme's implementation, with the support of a Technical Assistance Office and a Group of Experts. The Group of Experts is responsible for examining the applications filed and advising the European Commission in its decisions. As far as the submission of projects is concerned, one of the institutions belonging to a network will be designated as coordinating body and will present a joint proposal on behalf of the network.


Communication means

  • Applicant's guide to the programme
  • Calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in all the official languages of the Union and in the daily newspapers of the beneficiary countries.
  • This is the official site of the programme. In addition to all the information concerning the programme, this site offers a search table for partner institutions for the creation of networks.


Information offices or additional sources of information

European Commission
Directorate-General for External Relations
Address: EuropeAid Latin America Cooperation Office
Unit: Social Development
Rue de la Loi, 200 B-1049 Brussels
Fax: +32 2 299 10 47
Technical Assistance Office of the ALFA Programme (TAO)
Rue Joseph II, 36 bte 7, 4th floor, B-1000 Brussels
Tel.: + 32 2 219 04 53 - Fax.: + 32 2 219 63 84

(Information on EU funding)
EuropeAid Cooperation Office
(European Commission - DG External Relations)

date of publication: 03/01

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