Commission Agenda Entry: Wednesday, 10 May: Communication on the modernisation of the EU’s universities (follow-up to Hampton Court Council)

May 2, 2006

Brussels, 28 Apr 2006

The news:

  • On May 10th the Commission will adopt a communication calling for a modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems and their linked missions of education, research and innovation.
  • It will be the follow-up to a request from the Informal European Council held in Hampton Court in November 2005 when R&D and universities were acknowledged as fundamental pillars of European competitiveness.
  • It will emphasize the conditions needed for universities to address challenges in education, research and innovation and thus make their full contribution to Europe’s social and economic goals.
  • The European universities have an enormous potential with more than 17 million students and some 1,5 million staff working within 4000 institutions.
  • But with only 21% of its working-age population (25-64 year-olds) attaining tertiary education, the EU does not compare well with the US (38%), Canada (43%) or Japan (36%).
  • In March 2006, the European Council confirmed the EU’s goal as 3% of GDP invested in R&D by 2010.
  • When it comes to spending per student, if Europe were to match the total US figure, it would need to spend an additional 180 billion â'¬ each year on higher education.
  • The Communication will underline the urgent reforms needed by the EU’s higher education systems including the reducing of the funding gap and better partnerships with the business community to ensure that skills and scientific and technological knowledge reflect the needs of industry.

The event:

Press conference (tbc) on Wednesday May 10th at 11.30 in the Berlaymont press room by Ján Figel, European Commissioner in charge of Education and Training and Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner in charge of Science and Research.

The sources:

Universities (see Communication on “Mobilising the brain power in Europe” adopted in April 2005):

An action plan to boost research and innovation MEMO/05/366 of 12 October 2005

Creating an innovative Europe, report of the High Level Group chaired by Esko Aho:


Role of universities in the Europe of Knowledge:

The contacts:

Frédéric Vincent + 32 2 296 6367 ; Antonia Mochan + 32 2 296 9921

Item source: AGENDA/05/9

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