Extra funding for a European Union scheme to create virtual campuses will increase from €5.4 million (£3.7 million) to €8.1 million if changes made by the European Parliament to a planned 2004-06 e-learning programme are accepted.
MEPs proposed raising the e-learning budget's total spending to € million, citing the importance that EU institutions placed on internet-based education.
The objective of the pro-gramme is to encourage the development of organisational models for European virtual universities and for European exchange and sharing schemes.
These would use the internet to strengthen existing EU university cooperation frameworks, such as the Erasmus programme and the Bologna process on forging European academic standards.
The e-learning grants would boost the effectiveness of EU higher education institutions such as the European Credit Transfer System and the European Masters.
The programme would also provide money for creating digital materials for promoting e-learning. And money would be spent on training lecturers and other university staff in how to operate e-learning programmes.
"If Europe's teachers are not equipped to make proper, realistic use of the new technologies, this will diminish the value of these instruments," Italian MEP Mario Mauro said.
* The number of higher education institutions participating in the Erasmus exchange scheme is to top 2,000 for the first time in the 2003-04 academic year, according to the European Commission.
This figure is 150 higher than that of the current year, during which the total number of students who have used the programme exceeded 1 million.