Cooperation in the field of education with the EU's Eastern neighbours has been boosted by significantly increased budgets.
Nearly €30 million, twice as much as in previous years, have been allocated to projects financed by the Tempus programme in 2012 allowing Eastern Partnership countries to modernise their higher education systems. For the 2011/2012 academic year the Erasmus Mundus programme offers 860 scholarships to students from the Eastern Partnership region, which is 320 more than initially planned.The additional funding will lead to more opportunities for joint projects in the field of higher education, intensified university cooperation and individual grants for studying abroad.
"The privileged relations between the EU and its neighbours have led to closer political association, deeper economic integration, increased mobility and more contacts between people. Cooperation between universities and their staff and the mobility of their students is an important aspect of this relation and of the increasingly international character of higher education," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, and Youth.
Stronger engagement in education is a crucial element of the EU's neighbourhood policy. Particular attention is given to support young people, students, and university staff, who play an important role in the current democratisation and modernisation of these countries.
A conference organised by the European Commission in Kiev on 5-6 December will highlight these new opportunities. It brings together 300 experts and officials from education, research, youth and culture. Their discussion will focus on modernisation of the higher education systems and joint academic cooperation and mobility projects.