What’s new in Brussels?

What’s new in Brussels?

The Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) held their annual seminar ‘What’s new in Brussels’ last week. I was there with a good crowd of like minded participants from many countries, even from as far away as South Africa. We were all of course hungry for information on the new mobility programme which goes by the working name ‘Erasmus for All’, the new research programme, ‘Horizon 2020’, and the ‘Internationalisation Communication’ strategy.

A presentation on the European Institute of Technology (EIT) during the seminar was very helpful in connecting the dots between EIT and the funding from Horizon 2020. There are many interesting possibilities in both the EIT package and Horizon 2020, even for smaller universities. The main decisions on the programmes are expected in the coming months and if all goes well, the final decisions for Erasmus for All and Horizon 2020 will be made before the summer break of the European Parliament. The intention is to release the Internationalisation Communication before the decisions on Erasmus for All and Horizon 2020 are finalised.

Currently, the Council and the Parliament are not in agreement on the name of the mobility programme. The Council is pushing for the name ‘Yes Erasmus’ even though the working name ‘Erasmus for All’ has been already been widely adopted. The reasoning for this is of course not divulged. From my own point of view, the ‘Yes Erasmus’ title does not make any sense and does not encompass the thoughts behind the programme at all.

The ACA seminar also included a presentation on the recent report from the consortium Empower European Universities (EEU). This group is gathering facts and making reports in order to promote the need of greater autonomy for higher education institutions and to show how important these institutions are for economic development, both nationally and at the EU level. The latest report was presented to the European Parliament in early December 2012. The work done by this group is very important for higher education institutions but they do not get the attention they merit.

Looking at the ambitions that come across in the new mobility and research programmes, the work of EEU really complements those ambitions. Change in university management and an increase in autonomy would allow higher education institutions to make more out of the possibilities offered in the programmes.

Overall, the seminar provided us with some clarifications and a good insight into where ACA is in the process of getting all the different parts of the new programmes approved. This kind of information can of great help when you want to start preparing your own university for the new programmes and oversee your own working processes, so that you can hit the ground running when the programmes come into effect.

The EEU has a meeting later this week to look at the next steps. All eyes will be on the outcome of that meeting.