Asia - Education and science

Asia - Education and science

Education institutions play a key role in society contributing to sustainable development, and economic growth which is why the EU regards education and research as strategic sectors for development cooperation with Asia. The sectors thrive on the cross-fertilisation of ideas and on the exchange of students and academics. In the context of globalisation, international co-operation partnerships between EU and Asian higher education institutions are becoming increasingly important for a better responsiveness of education and research systems to the changing needs of the labour market in both continents.

The EU has much to offer its partners when it comes to higher education and scientific research. Europe has well-established world-class universities and is a leader in research and innovation. These advantages are used to develop joint approaches with Asian institutions that will strengthen the EU-Asia relationship and support development cooperation activities.

Funding Education and Science for a sustainable development

The Commission’s Regional Strategy Paper for EU-Asia Cooperation (2007-2013) allocates €44 million for cooperation in Education and Science during the strategy's first four years of operation. Consequently, the European Commission is funding three programmes in these fields: the most significant one called Erasmus Mundus Partnerships deals with higher education, while the two others are more linked to research activities.

The European Commission is funding the Erasmus Mundus Partnerships (Action 2) programme, formerly known as Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window (EMECW). Its main objective is to promote individual mobility of students, professors and researchers, with a view to promoting understanding between peoples world-wide as well as contributing to fostering sustainable development and reform in line with the Millennium Goals.

The EUforAsia programme is a network of research institutes co-funded by the European Commission to promote better understanding within Europe of the Asian region, in particular of Asian middle-income countries.

The European Commission is also funding the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) which intends to bridge the digital divide of less developed countries in Asia by improving the Internet connectivity for research and education institutions. It provides large capacity Internet connection to universities, research centers and academic institutions to increase the exchanges of knowledge among them and make big international research projects real.

The focus on higher education complements the EU’s aid programmes for basic education that are driven by the second Millennium Development Goal, which seeks to achieve universal primary education. Funding for basic education represents about 15% of the Commission’s budget for bilateral development cooperation between 2007 and 2013.

 Past Assistance

The Asia Link was set up by the European Commission in 2002 to promote regional and multilateral networking between higher education institutions in Europe and developing countries in Asia. The programme aimed to develop new and existing partnerships between European and Asian universities.

Through five annual Calls for Proposals (2002-2006), Asia-Link selected 175 projects for grants totaling €65 million. Over 85% of Asia-Link projects interviewed during a 2006 evaluation exercise felt that their networks would last after the project ended. From 2007 Asia-Link was included within the former Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window.

Asia Link also funded a series of European Higher Education Fairs in seven Asian countries from 2006-2008. The EHEF combines an initial Symposium offering forum for debate and dialogue on higher education cooperation between the EU and the relevant partner country . Followed by a EHEF Fair which offers European higher education institutions a platform to promote their study programmes.

The new EU-Asia Platform will serve for the development of networking activities, the exchange of best practices and information between Asia-Link project coordinators and other stakeholders active in academic cooperation between Europe and Asia. The project also includes the organisation of higher education fairs.

The ASEAN-EU University Network Programme (2000-2006) aimed to facilitate EU-ASEAN cooperation in higher education and to strengthen the capacity of South East Asian universities. It funded 20 partnership projects and organised round tables and rectors' conferences.