Towards an Open Higher Education System in the European Union

Seminar Paper, 2004

27 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

List of abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. Educational Migration in Europe
2.1. Development of the European Education Policy
2.2.1. Development
2.2.2. Characteristics of ERASMUS
2.2.3. Objectives of ERASMUS
2.3. Critical Appreciation

3. Bologna Declaration
3.1. Objectives
3.2. Instruments
3.3. Acknowledgement of the Bologna Declaration
3.3.1. Function of Employability
3.3.2. Function of Mobility
3.3.3. Labor Market Relevance
3.4. Neglected Aspects

4. Conclusion


List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

Proceeding globalization tendencies and increasing competition on the world markets oblige governments to adapt their educational system permanently to the new global challenges. They have to guarantee that their citizens gain all qualifications that are necessary to cope with recent problems in order to meet the increasing demands of economy. Prospective decision-makers are expected to be highly productive, enormously flexible and very sophisticated in terms of linguistic skills and cultural experiences.

Due to the fact, that hardly any education system has ever been completely shut off from outside influences, the European countries decided to meet their educational mandate jointly. So they intensified collaboration and put it on an institutional level. Soon, this new dimension of cooperation resulted in the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Apart from the general intention to push ahead with the integration process, European Education Policy aims at strengthening European economy by promoting employability and mobility of human capital. The European education system and its students are expected to be competitive regarding other education systems in the world as well as regarding common markets.

This paper intends to illuminate some aspects of the European education system. The emphasis is especially put on educational migration within Europe expressed by the SOCRATES respectively ERASMUS program and on the Bologna Declaration as the basis of educational collaboration on an institutional level:

At the beginning of chapter two, that deals with educational migration in Europe, the development of the European Education Policy is described in brief. Afterwards the development and the main characteristics and objectives of the SOCRATES / ERASMUS program are presented. The last part focuses on the most important aspects of mobility in general and of the SOCRATES / ERASMUS in particular. Here, the critical analysis is mainly limited to concise economic aspect due to the fact, that a total analysis would go beyond the scope of this paper.

Chapter three deals with the Bologna Declaration and its impact on the development of a European Higher Education Area. First the objectives and instruments are presented. In the following analysis emphasis is mainly put on employability, mobility and labor market aspects of the Bologna Declaration. In order to point out further challenges, some neglected aspects are briefly presented at the end of this chapter.

To conclude, chapter four sums up the main results and indicates prospective challenges.

2. Educational Migration in Europe

During 1996/97 about 58% of international educational migration took place from non-European countries to Europe or between European countries[1] (UNESCO 1999). The most important destinations for the migrants have been Great Britain, Germany, France and Russia; about 36% of the world wide educational migrants have chosen these countries in order to study there. The international attractiveness of these countries (especially of Great Britain and France) can partly be referred to their former colonial policy (List 1998, 29). But a more important role plays the European Education Policy which stimulates the mobility of highly educated by its exchange programs ERASMUS respectively SOCRATES.

In the following the basic development of the European Education Policy will be described first. Afterwards, focus will be put on the exchange programs ERASMUS respectively SOCRATES in order to appreciate the achievements critically at the end of this chapter.

2.1. Development of the European Education Policy

Generally, the efforts of the European Union (EU) concerning educational policy can be divided into three stages. In the first stage, from the European Community’s (EC) foundation up to the seventies, educational aspects played a minor role. Thus there were hardly any political activities concerning education (Ulrich 1996).

Between the seventies and the mid-eighties intergovernmental cooperation predominated educational policy within Europe. In the mid-seventies the EC implemented a common study program in order to support certain European networks which aimed at the exchange of students and at adaptation of curricula. But scholarships have not been provided yet (Teichler et al. 1999, 2).

Due to former success, the cooperation was intensified and extended in the following years. Since 1985 extensive cooperation programs focusing on universities and on the vocational training sector have been implemented. From now on cooperation was not merely limited to financing institutional collaboration between European universities but students themselves were supported by scholarships. Thereby, the countries intended to increase students’ mobility. In this context the ERASMUS respectively the SOCRATES program gained an important meaning and will therefore be presented in the following.


2.2.1. Development

In the context of developing European cooperation programs in the educational sector, the ERASMUS program (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) was implemented on 15.06.1987 in order to increase and intensify students’ mobility within Europe. Soon it became the most important supporting program of students’ mobility worldwide and was therefore regarded as the most successful educational program of the EU (Teichler et al. 1999).

With the launch of the SOCRATES program in 1995/96, ERASMUS became a sub-program of SOCRATES and the objective areas of support were modified. While the support for students’ mobility remained more or less unchanged, support for teaching staff mobility was extended. Additionally, more emphasis was put on curriculum development, recognition issues and the stimulation of innovation, e.g. through thematic networks (Schotte-Kmoch 2000, 59).

In the first stage from 1995/96 to 1999, SOCRATES disposed of EUR 850 million[2]. The second stage started in 2000 and will end in 2007. In order to consolidate and enlarge the first stage, the budget has been increased to EUR 1,85 billion. During the first stage about 460.000 students took part in an exchange. Until October 2002 more than one million students participated in an ERASMUS exchange (Europäische Kommission 2002, 9).

2.2.2. Characteristics of ERASMUS

ERASMUS encourages regional mobility within Europe. Participating countries are those of the EU and few others non-EU countries. In Germany almost all universities took part in the exchange program in 1999/2000, i.e. 237 universities with 98% of all German students (DAAD 2001). In 1999/2000 the four most important host countries for ERASMUS students were Great Britain (20.436), France (17.670), Spain (14.788) and Germany (14.524), whereas the students mainly came from France (16.825), Spain (16.297), Germany (15.715) and Italy (12.406).

ERASMUS supports temporary (about one or two terms) but not complete studies abroad. Moreover, not the whole costs are beard but only a part of them. Unfortunately the amount of grants increased in the past more than the available budget so that financing conditions deteriorated (DAAD 2001).

The ERASMUS program requires an institutional cooperation between the participating universities. This aspect has been strengthen by the introduction of bilateral university contracts in 1997/98. Thus, students are only able to take part in an ERASMUS exchange if their home university collaborates with their university of destination (Budke 2003, 31).

Another characteristic of the ERASMUS program is the local care of its students (Teichler et al. 1999). The aid might include data about the studies, excursions or language courses for example.


[1] Here, Europe includes: Austria, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Island, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Moldavia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia

[2] In 1999 the budget was increased to EUR 933 million.

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Towards an Open Higher Education System in the European Union
University of Göttingen
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International Economics M.A. Kenân Özkara (Author), 2004, Towards an Open Higher Education System in the European Union, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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