EU ministers set new targets for learning experiences abroad

EU education ministers have agreed new targets to boost learning, studying and training opportunities abroad, both within and outside the European Union.

By 2030 at least 23% of graduates and 12% of people in vocational education should have learning experiences in other countries, according to a recommendation to EU member states approved this week.

In addition, EU member states will have to make these experiences more inclusive and accessible, ensuring that by 2027 at least 20% of people “with fewer opportunities” can benefit. The target can be revised by 2030 following a Commission proposal.

The recommendation suggests measures to encourage more people to study and train outside their country of origin, including reinforcing language skills at all stages of education, providing more information about learning opportunities abroad, and improving their recognition in the curriculum.

“Mobility has long been at the heart of the EU project. Learning abroad can provide valuable skills and a stronger sense of the EU’s common values. Today’s recommendation will help expand opportunities for everyone to take advantage of the immense benefits that come with learning, studying or training outside their country of birth,” commented Caroline Désir, Minister of Education for the French Community of Belgium, which holds the EU Council Presidency this semester.

Experiences abroad support personal and professional development, help fill skills gaps in Europe, and build “a strong sense of citizenship,” the document says.

Obstacles to mobility

At present, the EU has a 20% learning mobility target for graduates and 8% for individuals in vocational training by 2030. However, a 2022 Eurobarometer survey among Europeans aged between 15 and 30 showed that only 15% of respondents had such an experience in another EU country. 

Those who did not cited the lack of financial means as the main reason (36%), followed by being ‘not interested’ (24%), not feeling sufficiently independent to go abroad for a long period (20%), lacking sufficient foreign language skills or information on available opportunities (both 19%).

The absence of an automatic recognition of qualifications or credits for experiences abroad are also an obstacle to youth mobility in the EU.

The recommendation adds that EU member states should address student housing shortages, facilitate mobility with other parts of the world, especially with countries that will join the EU in the future, and ensure the timely issuance of long-stay visas and residence permits for non-EU nationals.

The most common programmes for learning mobility within the EU are Erasmus+, which has so far enabled 1.2 million people to study and train abroad, and the European Solidarity Corps, which promotes volunteering internationally.

The EU is also developing the European Universities initiative which aims to award a joint European degree with a 50% mobility target among participating institutions.

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street News © all rights reserved

Photo: Erasmus students in Toulouse © European Union, 2017, Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

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