EC eyes mobility

December 1, 1995

The European Commission has urged member states' higher education institutions to boost student mobility independently of exch-ange schemes backed by Brussels.

In a paper on key challenges facing education in Europe, the commission suggests that universities should not restrict themselves to Erasmus, the union's giant student mobility programme, but should seek to apply the principles more generally. The commission accepts that there are hurdles to overcome, including the variation in grant taxation across member states.

The measure is one of many that Brussels says are needed to help the European economy and society meet the challenges of the information technology revolution, increasing liberalisation of global markets and acceleration of scientific progress. Students need a wider knowledge-base. There needs to be more emphasis on principles and understanding and less on factual knowledge.

A new Europe-wide system of accreditation and validation of skills and competencies may also be needed. Taking part in such a scheme - which could be developed by industrial bodies - would result in the participant having a "card" listing his or her competencies and levels attained. The scheme appears to be similar to the United Kingdom's National Vocational Qualifications system.

Brussels also suggests that firms should be rewarded for investing in vocational and life-long learning, possibly through tax breaks.

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