The Baltic Course, October 28
On 25 October in Kaunas, the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council together with the European Commission is presenting new possibilities that Erasmus+, the EU's new programme for education, training, sport and youth, will open for students and academic staff from Eastern Partnership countries. Starting 2014, Erasmus+ will allow Eastern Partnership and EU countries to actively participate in bilateral academic exchange, reports LETA/ELTA, referring to eu2013.lt.
The motto of the event is Bringing Eastern European partners closer to the EU. On behalf of the Lithuanian Presidency the event was opened by Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis.
Lithuanian Minister Pavalkis says: "I am delighted to greet you all gathered here at the first conference of the new education, youth and sports programme Erasmus+. At the moment Lithuania, as the Presidency of the EU council, is taking care of the preparatory work to ensure that the new programme comes into force on 1 January 2014 as scheduled."
"Internationalisation of higher education is currently the key topic on the European agenda. We therefore have chosen the internationalisation of higher education as our Presidency priority in the field of education. At the same time, Eastern Partnership is one of the main general priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency and we have a strong ambition to assist in bringing EU cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries to a new qualitative level. We therefore hope and expect that Ukraine will sign and Moldova and Georgia will initial the Association Agreements with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius at the end of next month," says Pavalkis.
"Academic mobility in the educational system is a prerequisite for international collaboration and is the key part of any internationalisation strategy of higher education. The discovery of the world and its diversity allows us to become more open for dialogue. In this modern global world where business, production and culture cross national boarders, it is very important to have a solid platform for effective intercultural collaboration, for partnerships", says the Lithuanian Minister.
"Erasmus programme has had the greatest impact on the development of the internationalisation of Lithuanian higher education. From 1999 to 2013, more than 28,000 Lithuanian students and 10,000 teachers have made use of the possibilities offered by this programme. I am very happy that now the same opportunities will be opened to the students, researchers and academics from the Eastern Partnership countries. The Erasmus+ programme offers countries an opportunity to meet, to exchange experience and collaborate at all educational levels. We hope we all will make the best out of this given opportunity", Pavalkis says.
"Increasing academic cooperation with our neighbours is a unique way to bring our regions and people closer to each other. I therefore urge universities on both sides to seize the opportunities offered by the new programmes," says the Lithuanian Minister, currently chairing the meetings of the EU education ministers.
The event brings together around 150 government officials, higher education staff, academic representatives and students' organisations from six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – and EU Member States.
Erasmus+, to be launched in January 2014, will promote cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries, in particular by supporting short-term student and staff mobility. More students and higher education institutions will be able to take part in the programme compared with under current programmes. Students from Eastern Partnership countries will also be able to receive grants to participate in excellent joint Master programmes. Doctoral fellowships will be financed by the new Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions, part of the new Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. Erasmus+ will also support the modernisation of higher education institutions and systems and staff development in partner countries.