The Commissioner said the new programme, due for launch in January 2014, would build on the success of the existing Tempus and Erasmus Mundus programmes. Since 2007, more than €140 million has been allocated for projects involving Southern Mediterranean universities to develop new curricula, retrain teachers, support new teaching methods and invest in equipment. In addition, €150 million has been provided in grants for more than 4 500 students from the region to spend part of their studies in the EU. More than 750 academic staff have also taken part in exchanges organised with European universities.
More than 200 universities in North Africa, the Middle East and the EU are involved in the exchanges. Universities in France, Italy, Spain Germany, Egypt and Jordan are the most active in the scheme. Nearly 800 students and staff from the Southern Mediterranean have also benefitted from funding for joint master and doctoral programmes since 2004.
“Erasmus Mundus has been a great success since its launch in 2004 and I am happy to say that we will be able to support even more exchanges under our new programme. Investing in youth is the best investment of all, in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. We want to support young people who are the key to social and political change, as well as the future prosperity of the region,” the Commissioner said.
The 'information day' event at Nicosia University was an opportunity for the Commission to discuss its future plans with representatives of the academic community from the Southern Mediterranean region. "We wish to demonstrate our commitment to lasting cooperation with our neighbours in the higher education field," added Commissioner Vassiliou. The event brought together more than 150 government officials, higher education staff and stakeholders from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon and EU Member States.