The Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe - European Union Committee Contents

CHAPTER 4: Student mobility

61.  The EU has taken the lead in encouraging mobility, most notably through the Erasmus programme. There is also a Bologna Process dimension, with the 2009 Leuven Ministerial Conference agreeing a target of achieving 20 per cent mobility experience among students across the EHEA by 2020. The next Ministerial Conference, in Bucharest on 26 and 27 April 2012, may also adopt a requirement for each country to adopt a "mobility strategy". The Communication on the Modernisation of Europe's Higher Education System states that the Commission is developing a "mobility scoreboard" to assess progress in removing obstacles to learning mobility within the EU.[123] Student mobility across Europe is not only fuelled by participation in the Erasmus programme but also by students who enrol abroad for a whole course or part of a course.

The benefits of mobility

62.  Some of our witnesses stressed the personal benefits of mobility experience.[124] The EUA said that "it gives young people the opportunity to move, to learn and to have different personal, social experiences as well as a different learning experience. The skills that they develop are skills for life and are absolutely the skills that we need to make our economies perform better as well. They are not just personal skills".[125] Other witnesses emphasised the benefits in terms of increased employability for those who participate.[126] million+ told us that there were "real advantages to students in placements overseas. Placements generally benefit students. They help them to mature; they give them a wider set of experiences; they make them much more employable by a wide range of employers; and they are definitely to be encouraged".[127] The Scottish Government said they were "committed to increasing the outward mobility of Scottish students in order to promote personal development and ultimately their contribution to the economy."[128] However, while the UK Bologna Experts agreed with the employability benefits they also emphasised that "the mission of European Higher Education must also uphold civic values, and develop knowledge".[129] Dovile Alsauskaithe, a Lithuanian student whom we met during our visit to the University of East London, emphasised that her Erasmus placement at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden had not only benefited her personally and academically but had also demonstrated her adaptability to prospective employers.[130]


63.  While there is much anecdotal evidence suggesting that mobility experiences increase students' employability, it seems that there is little hard evidence available, although the 1994 Group directed our attention to a HEFCE report. Based on a survey of students studying abroad during 2003/04, the report demonstrated that, statistically, participating students generally achieved better degree results and earned higher graduate salaries.[131] The University of Salford stated that a much "more convincing demonstration of the value of mobility (for students and researchers) in terms of employment and business outcomes" was needed, because much of "the current body of evidence is anecdotal and is based on an assumption that mobility/international experience is inherently 'a good thing' and worth the additional investment of 'effort', time and money".[132]

64.  The NUS and the EUA also raised concerns about the general lack of good quality data and different data collection mechanisms relating to student mobility across Europe.[133] The NUS stated that "At present there are a number of different agencies responsible for the collection of a variety of statistics. For many Member States, this can mean they are unaware of how many students—and more importantly what type—are undertaking study abroad, where they go, or what they do while there. We would recommend a standardisation of data collection, with one overall agency responsible at a supranational level".[134] The Minister agreed with the NUS's concerns about data quality and supported improved collection methods as long as they were cost effective and not unduly burdensome on institutions.[135] The UK Higher Education International Unit told us that, in the United Kingdom, the Higher Education Statistics Agency already provided very good data sets but acknowledged that this was not necessarily the case in other Member States.[136]

65.  The Commission acknowledges that there is a need for better labour market intelligence on current and future skills requirements in order to help identify growth employment areas and achieve a better match between education and labour market needs. Through Eurostat, they intend to improve the availability of data on learning mobility and employment outcomes, as well as constructing a European Tertiary Education Register.[137] While we asked many of our witnesses about the Commission's proposed European Tertiary Education Register none were in a position to elaborate on the detail and some requested further information from the Commission before its merits could be debated.[138]

66.  Substantive research into the links between mobility experiences and increased employability is urgently required in order to substantiate the anecdotal evidence. In this vein we endorse the Commission's intention to improve the availability of data on learning mobility and employment outcomes but also urge them to pay more attention to how such data is collected. More information also needs to be made available about the proposed European Tertiary Education Register before its potential to add value can be considered by all concerned.

The Erasmus programme

67.  The Erasmus programme is one of the best known and most successful EU programmes, which is aptly named after Desiderius Erasmus, the renaissance humanist.[139] The programme has now entered its 25th year, having been established in 1987. Since then, almost 2.3 million students have participated in study and work placements, and nine out of every 10 EU universities participate in the programme. The average duration of an Erasmus placement is 6 months and this has remained constant since 1987. During 2009/10, 213,266 individuals participated, representing just below 1 per cent of the total student population in the 32 participating countries. Of these over 61 per cent were female. Spain sent the greatest number of students abroad (31,158), followed by France (30,213) and then Germany (28,854). Spain was also the most popular destination for Erasmus students (35,389) followed by France (26,141) and then the United Kingdom (22,650). In total, 18 countries sent more students abroad than they received.[140] The total number of incoming and outgoing Erasmus students from 2000 to 2010 for the five most populous Member States—France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom—is contained in Figures 1 and 2.




68.  Apart from facilitating greater mobility, the Erasmus programme was also expected to strengthen other forms of co-operation between universities across Europe and thus help to improve the quality of European higher education as a whole. The Commission maintains that there is, as a result of the programme, a greater sense of European citizenship and shared values.[141] All our witnesses were enthusiastic about the Erasmus programme and its perceived benefits.

69.  The Erasmus programme provides benefits to the universities and the students who participate, as well as to the EU as a whole. Not only do students going abroad benefit from their experience, but British universities benefit from the presence of Erasmus students from other countries. We believe that the benefits for students include improved interpersonal skills, language skills, character development, building confidence, increased cultural awareness and enhanced employability.


70.  The Commission's Erasmus for All proposal brings together all the current MFF funding programmes for education, training, youth and sport into one unified programme, which will apply the well-known 'Erasmus' brand to all of the new sub-programmes.[142] It will support three key action areas, with two thirds of the budget being allocated to support greater learning mobility, including joint degree programmes and the Masters degree student loan guarantee mechanism (which is discussed below); one quarter of the budget supporting cooperation on innovation and good practices, including strengthening innovative partnerships between universities and business; and with five per cent of the budget providing support for policy reform, including the OMC approach, the proposed U-Multirank tool and the further development of Bologna tools such as the ECTS. The Jean Monnet Initiative, which promotes education and research on EU integration through support for dedicated modules and courses, Jean Monnet European Centres of Excellence and the College of Europe[143] will be preserved as a separate activity within the programme. We have already noted that many of our witnesses supported the Commission's proposed funding increase for Erasmus for All and while the British Council speculated that the increase could hypothetically result in a doubling of student mobility funding for the United Kingdom,[144] the Minister stood alone in opposing the proposed 70 per cent funding increase for Erasmus for All as being "completely unrealistic".[145] The Minister was not, at that stage, in a position to tell us if the Government intended to support any budget increase for this proposal during the negotiations.

71.  We welcome the Commission's intention to integrate the existing EU funding programmes for education, training, youth and sport into one unified programme. We note the Government's opposition to the Commission's preferred funding increase for Erasmus for All but reiterate our view that this programme merits a proportionately larger allocation under the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Mobility to and from the United Kingdom

72.  Globally, the UK is the second largest destination for students studying abroad, behind only the USA. The Government told us that during the period 2009/10, there were approximately 406,000 foreign students studying at universities in the United Kingdom while the number of UK students studying abroad was only about 33,000.[146] A study of British secondary school pupils intending to study abroad showed that the majority preference was for North American universities (56.5 per cent) rather than European ones (21.8 per cent).[147]

73.  The British Council is the designated national agency for Erasmus in the United Kingdom and works closely with the Government regarding the operation of the programme. During the period 2010/11, they told us that there were 12,873 UK Erasmus participants, the highest number since the programme started in 1987.[148] The increase in participation seems to be, in part, due to the inclusion of work placements in the Erasmus programme since 2007, which many of our witnesses considered to be a positive step.[149]

74.  However, as we have already noted,[150] outward mobility from comparator countries including France, Germany and Spain is still approximately three times that of the United Kingdom and, as a result, the United Kingdom is a substantial net receiver of Erasmus students from elsewhere in the EU. Regarding possible reasons for British students' continued reluctance to participate in mobility programmes, the NUS told us that their research had found that "28% of students decided not to study abroad because of uncertainty about language; 11% were unaware that opportunities were there at all and did not know that they could do it; and 37% cited financial implications".[151] These factors are explored in more detail below, alongside consideration of socio-economic and cultural barriers. Academic obstacles have also been cited, including concerns about the recognition of credits, the lack of compatible courses at partner universities and unaligned term dates. As we have already discussed, while the development of the ECTS has mitigated these concerns to an extent, some students still experience problems in these areas.[152]

75.  We note that students in other European countries appear to be more predisposed to participation in the Erasmus programme and mobility schemes more generally. We urge the Government and universities to do more to tackle the barrier to mobility in the United Kingdom.

76.  We also support the notion that each Bologna country should adopt a "mobility strategy" and urge the Minister to support this at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference in Bucharest.


77.  The Government told us that they were committed to promoting outward student mobility and had established a Steering Group to this end. It was chaired by Professor Colin Riordan—who provided evidence to us during our inquiry on behalf of the UK Higher Education International Unit—and was tasked with reviewing current incentives, financial support and obstacles to outward student mobility.[153] After making an interim recommendation on the retention of the fee waiver scheme in December 2011 it reported to the Minister in March 2012, including recommendations on how to ensure that mobility continued and increased in the future. We understand that the Government is now deciding how matters should be taken forward in this area.


78.  The UK Higher Education International Unit stated that the most commonly cited barriers to mobility were financial. While Erasmus grants are available from the Commission—which were an average of €272 per month during 2009/10 but reduced to an average of €254 per month during 2010/11[154]—these are rarely sufficient to cover the costs of the placement, especially in the more expensive countries, which thus dissuades many less financially privileged students from viewing it as a feasible option.[155] Some institutions also offer bursaries to students from lower socio-economic groups and since 2011/12 the British Council has made a one-off supplementary grant of €500 available to students falling into this category.[156] The Scottish Government also recognised that financial concerns presented a barrier to mobility for many students and suggested that their commitment not to charge tuition fees should help to overcome this barrier. They are also exploring options to provide additional funding for Scottish students studying overseas as part of their Saltire Scholarships Programme and considered EU funding to be a crucial part of this.[157]

79.  An Erasmus fee waiver, which involves the waiving of fees, for the duration of the placement that would normally be incurred for study at the student's home university in England and HEFCE, compensates the university concerned for its loss. The fee waiver is provided in addition to the Commission's Erasmus grants. HEFCE has proposed continuing the scheme until 2013/14, but there is no indication that they will be able to afford to compensate universities for the loss of much higher tuition fees in the longer term. The continuation of the fee waiver scheme is currently under review by the Government appointed Steering Group. The Devolved Administrations also provide a fee waiver and we understand that none have any plans to revoke it. Many of our witnesses pressed for retention of the fee waiver and the EUA warned that its removal would hit underrepresented and disadvantaged groups the hardest.[158]

80.  We consider the retention of the Erasmus fee waiver scheme by the Government, in some form, to be essential as it provides a substantial incentive for students to participate in the programme, particularly those from lower income backgrounds.


81.  The United Kingdom's lack of language competence is well known and needs little documentation.[159] Over time, it has arguably been compounded by the de facto adoption of English as the lingua franca of the EU institutions. After financial concerns, the lack of language skills is cited as a second important barrier to achieving greater UK mobility. The UK Higher Education International Unit saw this as a substantial reason for the United Kingdom's low participation in the programme, as students were "afraid of studying/working in a non-native language", meaning that the highest enrolment in Erasmus programmes was among UK language students. Furthermore, many universities were reluctant to send their students abroad unless the partner university could provide a range of courses in English.[160] In this respect, the University Alliance considered language to be less of an obstacle than previously because more Continental universities were now offering courses in English.[161]

82.  Professor Riordan thought that the reluctance to learn languages in the United Kingdom was probably due to historical reasons and the British Council stated that this "fear of language" needed to be overcome.[162] They considered that foreign languages should become compulsory at both primary and secondary school, as a way of overcoming the "linguistic deficit" suffered by many students.[163] Other witnesses sympathised with this position.[164] At the university level they thought that the problem could also be tackled by allocating more resources to language centres or to extra-curricular courses offered by language departments, while the UK Higher Education International Unit called on the Commission to allocate specific funding for the provision of language training both before and during placements.[165]

83.  The Government told us that they were fully committed to the teaching of languages in schools and that the current review of the National Curriculum was considering the status of languages at both primary and secondary level. They considered that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate[166] would "encourage more young people to take a language at GCSE level and should lead to a renaissance in languages in our schools".[167] The Scottish Government were also conscious about the lack of language skills being a problem and pointed out in their evidence to us that they were taking action to promote more widespread learning of languages in Scottish schools. They believed that raising awareness of the benefits of acquiring such skills, particularly for employability, would encourage greater participation.[168]

84.  The growing trend of using English as the dominant language in the academic world, as well as in the EU institutions, should not encourage the United Kingdom to be unconcerned about the opportunities and benefits presented by learning and working in another language. The United Kingdom has already fallen behind in language-learning capability. If this is not reversed it will not only threaten its ability to participate fully in EU programmes such as Erasmus but will also severely hamper individuals' employability[169] and the country's competitiveness within the Single Market and beyond.

85.  As part of their reappraisal of language teaching policy, we recommend that language learning becomes compulsory at both primary and secondary school. Account should also be taken of the need for effective transition arrangements between primary and secondary school in this respect. Students need to be persuaded that they could benefit from Erasmus placements, even if they do not speak the relevant language fluently at the start of their assignments. Universities could also do more to encourage language skills among their students through language centres and extra-curricular courses, with support from the Commission where appropriate.


86.  The Communication on the Modernisation of Europe's Higher Education System calls on Member States and institutions to encourage individuals from traditionally under-represented socio-economic groups into university education, through outreach in schools, targeted financial support to students from lower income backgrounds, by providing more transparent information on educational opportunities and bespoke guidance to inform study choices and reduce drop-out rates.[170]

87.  A 2010 HEFCE report found that the most mobile students in the UK were "disproportionately young, female, white and middle-class, and are academic high-achievers".[171] The NUS considered this situation to be "untenable", in terms of the Bologna Process' social dimension and wider responsibilities to social mobility, and called for more targeted funding and resources (including information, advice and guidance) to be directed towards the students most in need.[172] The Government provided us with statistics on the socio-economic breakdown of UK Erasmus participants for the period 2008/09, which demonstrated clearly that students from ethnic minorities; with a disability; who were older; or who had parents from a non-professional background, were less likely to participate in the Erasmus programme.[173] These statistics are summarised in Figure 3.


Analysis of UK Erasmus participants for 2008/09 by ethnicity and socio-economic group

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency

88.  The "social dimension" first received recognition under the Bologna Process, with the 2005 Bergen Ministerial Conference agreeing that it was a "constituent part of the European Higher Education Area". The 2007 London Ministerial Conference Communiqué also agreed that "the student body entering, participating in and completing higher education at all levels should reflect the diversity of our populations" and that "students [should be] able to complete their studies without obstacles related to their social and economic background". We understand that an Observatory on the Social Dimension in Higher Education began to be developed after the 2007 Ministerial Conference in order to improve data and monitoring in this area. The British Council and Government called for more research to be conducted by the Commission into social mobility issues in higher education[174] so providing adequate funding for the Observatory may provide a good opportunity to meet this objective. In this respect, we also noted with interest Birkbeck College's social class, gender, participation and lifelong learning (GLAS) project—co-financed by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme—and endorse its view that these issues are "common to all European countries and something, which requires a transnational, trans-cultural collaborative approach".[175] We look forward to receiving notification of this project's findings in due course.

89.  The EUA told us that "students whose parents have not attended higher education and have not been mobile have a much more difficult threshold to get over" and suggested that providing access to mentors inside the universities may mitigate this problem.[176] The UK Higher Education International Unit talked about the persistence of "cultural and motivational barriers" and the "reluctance of individuals to move out of their comfort zone", stating that "many students—especially less privileged ones and those who undertake part-time employment alongside their studies—do not see going abroad as practical possibility". Staff from the University of East London also mentioned that many of their students had rarely left the local area let alone travelled abroad beyond visiting their ancestral country of origin.[177] The 1994 Group remarked that those students who enjoy the "social advantage of travelling widely before they go to university know that 'abroad' is not a frightening place".[178] The UK Higher Education International Unit suggested that a way of overcoming this barrier was by intervening in schools and families from an early age.[179] The NUS also talked of the "boyfriend/girlfriend effect": having to spend time apart, giving up accommodation and a part-time job all acting as a disincentive.[180]

90.  The social dimension of the Bologna Process and the Erasmus programme is of paramount importance in terms of widening participation in higher education.

91.  We consider that socio-economic and cultural considerations constitute significant barriers to mobility but we acknowledge that these issues are much harder to address than financial and linguistic challenges. In order to inform this matter we urge the Bucharest Ministerial Conference to endorse the further development of the Observatory on the Social Dimension in Higher Education in order to improve data and monitoring in this area. Intervention at an early age to ingrain mobility opportunities could also prove crucial in overcoming this barrier. Improving the flexibility of placements, and the provision of information about them, could also help to achieve wider participation.


92.  Many witnesses thought the current emphasis on Erasmus placements of up to a year were too long, therefore reducing their appeal and that greater flexibility was needed.[181] The UK Higher Education International Unit was also supportive of shorter placements, stating that this "would enable many more students, and especially those currently underrepresented, to take part in the Erasmus programme, since shorter mobility periods would present less of a financial burden and would appear less daunting to individuals. This might also encourage longer periods of mobility at a later point, by helping to increase interest in work and study abroad and to build confidence in students".[182]

93.  The Scottish Government indicated that they had suggested to the Commission that the three month minimum duration for Erasmus placements was too long, particularly as it disadvantaged those on low incomes, as well as those with children or caring responsibilities. Their view was that "It is not so much the length of the experience that is significant but rather the quality of it and the learning outcomes that result ... For those who are less confident [about travelling to Europe to study] a short taster of studying abroad may well be the catalyst to further mobility in the future".[183] The NUS emphasised the benefits of shorter periods of as little as two weeks, as well as shared semesters and also mentioned the possibilities offered by "virtual mobility" in terms of allowing students who are most at risk of never going abroad to experience what studying abroad was like and imbue them with some of the same benefits, including increased cultural awareness and academic confidence.[184]

94.  We call on the Government and the Commission to investigate the feasibility and potential advantages of introducing more flexible and shorter Erasmus placements, including how any administrative difficulties could be overcome in this respect.


95.  The University of Salford remarked that, by the time students started university they were often reluctant to undertake placements and exchanges abroad due to their lack of knowledge about the opportunities and suggested that mobility opportunities should be promoted more widely in schools. The British Council agreed, saying that "one key aspect of stimulating greater interest in the opportunity for mobility as a university student is to introduce the idea at school and to develop curricula and awareness at school which will lead naturally to an aspiration to mobility during tertiary education".[185] The University Alliance agreed that prospective students needed to be targeted with more information, especially about the emphasis that employers place on this type of experience. They also suggested using "student ambassadors" to speak about their experiences, promote the benefits of the scheme and provide advice to those considering mobility. Other witnesses agreed[186] and it was also suggested that the Commission could make grants available for such ventures, as well as encouraging universities to organise promotional Erasmus days and workshops.[187] In this respect, we were pleased to hear that the British Council is developing an online mobility portal for students providing a central repository of information.[188]

96.  The Government stated that the Steering Group had examined how greater interest in mobility opportunities could be generated among university students by increasing awareness at school of programmes such as Erasmus, as well as providing more centralised information about mobility opportunities and involving employers in this process.[189]

97.  We consider the provision of more information, as well as promotional activities about the mobility opportunities that are available, by universities and policy makers, to be key in increasing engagement with the Erasmus programme. In this respect, we welcome the British Council's development of an online information portal for students.

Threats to the UK's competitive position

98.  Concerns were raised by our witnesses about the development of divisions and differences between studying in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the EU with some considering that the introduction of higher tuition fees in England would have a negative impact on mobility.[190] The EUA told us that more needed to be done to explain the new system to European partners and "precisely what the new policy means for exchanges and students who wish to come in and students who wish to go out" otherwise the complications may prevent joint degree programmes and other collaborative projects being developed.[191] As students from other Member States—Erasmus or not—have to be treated in the same way as domestic students under EU law, students coming to the UK before 1998 did not have to pay any tuition fees. However, with the successive fee increases since this date, the next generation of students have been faced with a substantially more expensive period of study in English universities. While it is too early to tell for sure whether the new tuition fee arrangements are dissuading foreign students from coming to the United Kingdom in significant numbers, early statistical returns confirm that the number of EU applicants is declining, for whatever reason.[192]

99.  This risk is compounded by the recent growth of courses taught in the English Language by Continental universities, particularly at the postgraduate level, which is a feature of the increasingly competitive global market for international students. The NUS remarked that the University of Maastricht was stepping up its efforts to recruit students from the United Kingdom.[193] This is a good example of a Continental university which is very close to United Kingdom in terms of standards and quality, but which charges significantly lower course fees.[194] Such courses are undoubtedly attractive to British students who lack the necessary language skills it also means that the United Kingdom can no longer guarantee that it will retain its competitive edge in attracting foreign students. While the Minister accepted that universities in the United Kingdom were facing an increasingly competitive challenge from elsewhere in the EU, he generally considered this to be a good thing.[195]

100.  It is too early to tell what the effect of higher tuition fees in England and increased competition from Continental universities will be on the attractiveness of the United Kingdom as a destination for EU, and even domestic, students. We nevertheless urge the Government to be vigilant about this and to engage actively with its partners across the EU in promoting the strengths of the higher education sector in the United Kingdom.

Erasmus Masters Degree Mobility Scheme

101.  The Commission intends to increase the mobility of postgraduate students, who acquire the kind of advanced skills that are particularly valued by employers, by improving their access to affordable finance through the provision of a Masters-level student loan guarantee facility.[196] They hope to make such a facility available from 2014, so that students who normally face financial constraints can elect to take their Masters degree in another Member State. The Commission is clear that this is an area in which they can add value, particularly as national loans are not typically transferable abroad and commercial loans are commonly not accessible for students from lower income backgrounds.[197]

102.  Many of our witnesses supported the Commission's proposal for a loan guarantee facility as a step in the right direction, which could address the lack of funds available in this area and increase mobility.[198] The NUS supported its introduction as a positive way to increase participation but cautioned that: "We would however want guarantees surrounding the rate of interest, length of repayment and the point at which graduates start repayment. A system of loans that has commercial terms and conditions attached would not be acceptable. We strongly believe that there should be significant subsidy from the Commission so that mobility loans do not attract real interest rates. If such a loan system was introduced we would also want there to be appropriate monitoring of access to the loans to ensure that it is supporting a widening of access".[199] The NUS also cited the view of the ESU, of which it is a member, which has called for the scheme to be frozen due to their commitment to the principle of free education.[200] Other witnesses agreed but called for more details about the proposed facility before they could consider the merits, some having concerns that it could "cut across" Member State competences.[201] The British Academy thought that the scheme could provide a valuable alternative source of support and encouragement to individuals to pursue postgraduate study and research but considered that the size of support was unlikely to be sufficient.[202] We have already noted concerns about the position of the United Kingdom's one-year Masters degree in the context of the EHEA.[203]

103.  We endorse the proposed Masters level student loan guarantee facility if it incorporates competitive interest rates and favourable repayment terms. We also call on the Government to be vigilant in ensuring that the UK one-year Masters degree is properly taken into account as the details of the proposed scheme are developed.

Revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive

104.  The operation of the ECTS does not necessitate the automatic recognition of qualifications. However, in order to facilitate the free movement of certain professionals throughout the European Economic Area,[204] the Professional Qualifications Directive[205] grants automatic recognition to seven professions on the basis of agreed (and binding) minimum training standards, including the requisite bachelor and masters degrees that may be required to practice those professions.[206] On 22 June 2011 the Commission published a Green Paper on the modernisation of the Directive and in response to this we published a report which focused on the operation of the existing Directive in relation to healthcare professionals.[207]

105.  On 19 December 2011, the Commission published their proposal to revise the Directive.[208] Among many other provisions, it proposes that the minimum training standards, which were originally formulated in the 1970s and 1990s, should be updated to reflect current practice, alongside other measures to ensure better compliance with the agreed standards. This was in accordance with one of our report's recommendations. In terms of the duration of these training periods, the proposal also states that closer alignment will also be sought between the terms of the revised Directive and the ECTS.

106.  In the context of our inquiry, the Government told us that they believed that the forthcoming negotiations on the revision of the Directive should take into account Bologna instruments and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)[209] and synchronise them with the updated minimum training standards. Otherwise, they were concerned about the risk of creating different sets of frameworks for higher education, which did not take account of labour market inflexibilities.[210]

107.  We endorse the Government's intention to seek closer alignment between the revised Professional Qualifications Directive and the European Qualifications Framework and Framework for Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area.

123   COM (2011) 567, p.11 Back

124   UK Bologna Experts, Russell Group and Q 53 Back

125   Q 124 Back

126   British Council and Q 101 Back

127   Q 100 Back

128   Scottish Government Back

129   UK Bologna Experts Back

130   See Appendix 3 Back

131   Q 100. HEFCE/British Council, International student mobility, 2004 & 2010 (updated). The report confirms that there is a lack of hard evidence concerning the impact of mobility on employability but much anecdotal evidence from employers that graduates benefit from having had a mobility experience during their studies. Back

132   University of Salford. The British Council echoed this view, Q 42 Back

133   Q 60 and EUA Back

134   NUS Back

135   Q 85 Back

136   Q 16 Back

137   COM (2011) 567, pp. 10-11 Back

138   HEFCE and QAA Back

139   He was born in the Netherlands and during his lifetime studied, taught and worked in Belgium, England, France, Italy, and Switzerland. He published a number of influential texts, including new Latin and Greek versions of the New Testament, and also debated the merits of the Reformation with Martin Luther. Back

140   European Commission, The Erasmus Programme 2009/2010: A Statistical Overview, December 2011 Back

141   See  Back

142   The existing Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig programmes for vocational training and adult education, respectively, will become known as 'Erasmus Training', while the existing Comenius programme for schools will become known as 'Erasmus Schools'. Back

143   The College of Europe was founded in 1949 and provides postgraduate degrees in European studies through its campuses in Bruges and Warsaw. Many of its alumni progress to senior positions in the EU institutions.  Back

144   Q 49 Back

145   Q 87 Back

146   BIS Back

147   BIS, Motivations and Experiences of UK Students Studying Abroad, January 2010 Back

148   British Council Back

149   QAA, University Alliance, BIS, UK Higher Education International Unit and Q 59 Back

150   See Figures 1 and 2, p. 36 Back

151   Q 59 Back

152   UK Higher Education International Unit and Q 52. Also see Chapter 2. The Erasmus Student Network conducted a survey of 9,000 Erasmus students during the period 2010/11-PRIME 2010: Problems of Recognition in Making Erasmus, 27 September 2011-which found that only 73% received full recognition for their studies abroad, with some having to repeat either courses or exams on their return home. Back

153   The work of the Steering Group was supported by four expert working groups, which considered the fee waiver scheme, business involvement and benefits to employability, UK institutional best practice and international best practice. BIS and the UK Higher Education International Unit acted as the joint secretariat. Back

154   European Commission, The Erasmus Programme 2009/2010: A Statistical Overview, December 2011 Back

155   UK Higher Education International Unit Back

156   BIS Back

157   Scottish Government Back

158   Q 45, Q 102 and Q 118 Back

159   Research by the National Centre for Languages (CILT) suggests that foreign language learning in the UK, which was already comparatively low, has deteriorated even further over the last decade. See CILT, HE language students in the UK 2002-03 to 2008-09: Annual analysis of HESA data, 2010 Back

160   UK Higher Education International Unit Back

161   University Alliance, supplementary evidence. The British Council stated that approximately 50 per cent of outgoing UK Erasmus participants were language students, whereas incoming Erasmus students study a much wider range of disciplines, with only around 15 per cent of them studying languages. Back

162   Q 8 and Q 37  Back

163   British Council. The previous Government changed the National Curriculum to make languages optional. Back

164   Professor Furlong, University of Salford, Q 100 and Q 115 Back

165   British Council and British Academy Back

166   The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a new performance measure for any student who secures good GCSE or accredited certificate passes in English, mathematics, history or geography, two sciences and an ancient or modern foreign language. The Government intends the EBacc to become one of the main measures of achievement for schools in the future. Back

167   BIS Back

168   Scottish Government Back

169   Including candidates applying for jobs in the EU Institutions. Back

170   COM (2011) 567, p. 4 Back

171   HEFCE/British Council, International student mobility, 2004 & 2010 (updated), p. 2 Back

172   NUS Back

173   BIS, supplementary evidence. The statistics also show that over 96 per cent were between the ages of 18 and 26 during 2008/09. However, five individuals over 65 years of age also participated during the same period. Back

174   British Council and BIS Back

175   Birkbeck College Back

176   Q 118 Back

177   See Appendix 3 Back

178   Q 103 Back

179   Q 24 Back

180   Q 57 Back

181   British Council, NUS, QAA, Scottish Government, University of Salford and Q 116 Back

182   UK Higher Education International Unit Back

183   Scottish Government Back

184   NUS. Such a scheme would essentially apply the culture of the Open University-online lectures, tutorials and discussion forums-on a cross-border basis. Back

185   British Council Back

186   Mixed Economy Group of colleges (MEG) and Businet and UK Higher Education International Unit Back

187   UK Higher Education International Unit Back

188   British Council Back

189   BIS Back

190   HEFCE, British Academy, Russell Group, million+ and Q 92 Back

191   Q 117 Back

192   UCAS, 2012 Applicant Figures, 30 January 2012, states that the number of EU applicants for full-time undergraduate courses fell by 11.2 per cent year on year. This was flagged up in supplementary evidence from million+. Back

193   Q 65. An article by the university's president, Professor Martin Paul-'Moving beyond the Bologna process: Europe as one higher-education space', Guardian Professional, 9 November 2011-states that the number of UK students studying there had increased fivefold over the past two years. Back

194   In contrast to the maximum annual tuition fee of £9,000 for an undergraduate degree in England the equivalent rate is €1,713 (approximately £1,450) at Maastricht University.  Back

195   Q 77. UK Higher Education International Unit agreed, Q 10. Back

196   The detail of this proposal has yet to be determined but may involve the Commission acting as the guarantor to loans provided by commercial organisations. Back

197   COM (2011) 567, p. 12 Back

198   1994 Group, British Council, EUA, Engineering Professors' Council, Russell Group, million+, UK Bologna Experts, University of Kent and University of Salford Back

199   Q 57. University of Salford and Russell Group echoed this view. Back

200   See ESU, Statement on the Modernisation Agenda, 12 November 2011. It states that "education is a right and has to be considered as a public good which citizens pay taxes for. Loans are thus not an acceptable way of financing higher education". Back

201   BIS, UK Higher Education International Unit, Russell Group and Scottish Government Back

202   British Academy Back

203   See paragraphs 20 and 21 Back

204   The EEA was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement between the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and what became the EU. It allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to participate in the EU's Single Market without becoming Member States of the EU. As a result they are obliged to adopt all EU legislation relating to the Single Market, except regarding agriculture and fisheries. Back

205   Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications Back

206   They are doctors, dentists, general care nurses, midwives, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and architects. Back

207   European Union Committee, 22nd Report of Session 2010-12, Safety First: Mobility of Healthcare Professionals in the EU (HL Paper 201) Back

208   18899/11, COM (2011) 883: Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and Regulation on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System Back

209   The Commission developed the EQF, which was introduced in 2008, to act as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across the EU. It encourages Member States to relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF so that all new qualifications issued from 2012 onwards carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level. The EQF is closely related to, and compatible with, the Framework for Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area, which was agreed by the Bologna countries in 2005.  Back

210   BIS. The Government's impact assessment, which accompanied their Explanatory Memorandum on the proposal, also noted that in 2010 over 11,000 professionals from the EEA applied to practise their profession in the United Kingdom, while only 880 British professionals applied to do the same elsewhere in the EEA. It seems that a reluctance to participate in mobility schemes is not restricted to the student population of the United Kingdom.  Back

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