The Global Bologna Policy Forum: a forum for the emerging global higher education and research space?

As our readers likely know, the Bologna Process was launched in 1999 with the objective of constructing the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010.  One increasingly important aspect of the evolution of the Bologna Process is its ‘external’ (aka ‘global’) dimension.  To cut a long story short, deliberations about the place of the EHEA within its global context have been underway since the Bologna Process was itself launched in 1999. But, as noted in one of our earlier 2007 entries (‘The ripple effects of the Bologna Process in the Asia-Pacific‘), the formalization of an external dimension to the Bologna Process was not spurred on until May 2005 when the Bergen Communiqué included the following statement:

The European Higher Education Area must be open and should be attractive to other parts of the world. Our contribution to achieving education for all should be based on the principle of sustainable development and be in accordance with the ongoing international work on developing guidelines for quality provision of crossborder higher education. We reiterate that in international academic cooperation, academic values should prevail.

We see the European Higher Education Area as a partner of higher education systems in other regions of the world, stimulating balanced student and staff exchange and cooperation between higher education institutions. We underline the importance of intercultural understanding and respect. We look forward to enhancing the understanding of the Bologna Process in other continents by sharing our experiences of reform processes with neighbouring regions. We stress the need for dialogue on issues of mutual interest. We see the need to identify partner regions and intensify the exchange of ideas and experiences with those regions.

eheaextcover.jpgThe Bergen Communiqué led to the development of a more formal 2007 strategy document titled Looking Out: The Bologna Process in Global Setting: On the External Dimension of the Bologna Process and this associated strategy document European Higher Education in a Global Setting. A Strategy for the External Dimension of the Bologna Process, which was approved by the ministers in 2007. It was this strategy document that led to the delineation of five “core policy areas”:

  • Improving information on the European Higher Education Area;
  • Promoting European Higher Education to enhance its world-wide attractiveness and competitiveness;
  • Strengthening cooperation based on partnership;
  • Intensifying policy dialogue;
  • Furthering recognition of qualifications.

Further background information, including all supporting documents, is available on this Bologna Process Follow-up Group website (European Higher Education in a Global Context) which the Bologna Secretariat sponsors.

Since 2007 we have seen a variety of activities come together to ensure that the fourth action item (“intensifying policy dialogue”) be implemented, though in a manner that cross-supports all of the other action items.  One key activity was the creation of a “policy forum” with select non-EHEA countries: see the figure below (with my emphasis) taken from the just issued EURYDICE report Focus on Higher Education in Europe 2010: The Impact of the Bologna Process to see where the inaugural 2009 forum, and its 2010 follow-up, fit within the overall Bologna Process timeline:

The First Bologna Policy Forum was held in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, on 29 April 2009, and brought together all 46 Bologna ministers in association with “Australia, Brazil, Canada, P.R. China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Tunisia, and the U.S., as well as the International Association of Universities.”

Representatives of the First Bologna forum sanctioned the following statement:

Statement by the Bologna Policy Forum 2009

Meeting, for the first time, at this Bologna Policy Forum held in Louvain-la-Neuve on April 29, 2009, we, the Ministers for Higher Education, heads of delegation from the 46 European countries participating in the Bologna Process and from Australia, Brazil, Canada, P.R. China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Tunisia, USA, along with the International Association of Universities and other international organizations and NGOs, have taken part in a constructive debate on world wide cooperation and partnership in higher education with a view to developing partnership between the 46 Bologna countries and countries from across the world.

We note, with satisfaction, that this Policy Forum has fostered mutual understanding and learning in the field of higher education, and has laid the ground for sustainable cooperation in the future.

We also note that there are shared values and principles underpinning higher education and a common understanding that it is fundamental to achieving human, social and economic development.

We consider that higher education constitutes an exceptionally rich and diverse cultural and scientific asset for both individuals and society.

We emphasize the key role that higher education plays in the development of our societies based on lifelong learning for all and equitable access at all levels of society to learning opportunities.

We underline the importance of public investment in higher education, and urge that this should remain a priority despite the current economic crisis, in order to support sustainable economic recovery and development.

We support the strategic role of higher education in the pursuit and advancement of knowledge and therefore advocate global sharing of knowledge through multi-national research and education projects and exchange programs for students and staff, in order to stimulate innovation and creativity.

We are convinced that fair recognition of studies and qualifications is a key element for promoting mobility and we will therefore establish dialogue on recognition policies and explore the implications of the various qualifications frameworks in order to further mutual recognition of qualifications.

We hold that transnational exchanges in higher education should be governed on the basis of academic values and we advocate a balanced exchange of teachers, researchers and students between our countries and promote fair and fruitful “brain circulation”.

We seek to establish concrete cooperation activities which should contribute to better understanding and long-term collaboration by organizing joint seminars on specific topics, like on quality assurance for example.

The next Bologna Policy Forum will be convened in Vienna on 12 March 2010.

Clearly the pros/benefits of sponsoring this rather complex event were perceived to be significant and the Second Bologna Policy Forum (sometimes deemed the Global Bologna Policy Forum) was held yesterday, on 12 March, at the end of the Bologna Ministerial Anniversary Conference 2010.

The Bologna Policy Forum has grown in size in that 73 countries attended the 12 March forum including the 46 EHEA countries as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan [invited to join the EHEA in 2010], Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and the United States of America. In addition the following organizations sent representatives to the second forum: BUSINESSEUROPE, Council of Europe, Education International Pan-European Structure (EI), European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), European Commission, European Students’ Union (ESU), European University Association (EUA), International Association of Universities (IAU), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It is interesting to compare the second official Forum Statement to the one above:

Bologna Policy Forum Statement, Vienna, March 12, 2010

1. Today, the European Higher Education Area has officially been launched. In this context, we note that the Bologna Process of creating and further developing this European Higher Education Area has helped redefine higher education in Europe. Countries outside the area will now be able to more effectively foster increased cooperation with Bologna countries.

2. We, the Ministers of Higher Education and heads of delegation of the countries, institutions and organisations participating in the Second Bologna Policy Forum, held a dialogue on systemic and institutional changes in higher education in the developing global knowledge society.

3. We focussed our debate on how higher education systems and institutions respond to growing demands and multiple expectations, discussed mobility of staff and students, including the challenges and opportunities of “brain circulation”, and the balance between cooperation and competition in international higher education.

4. To address the great societal challenges, we need more cooperation among the higher education and research systems of the different world regions. While respecting the autonomy of higher education institutions with their diverse missions, we will therefore continue our dialogue and engage in building a community of practice from which all may draw inspiration and to which all can contribute.

5. To facilitate policy debates and exchange of ideas and experience across the European Higher Education Area and between countries, institutions and organisations participating in the Second Bologna Policy Forum, we will each nominate a contact person and inform the Bologna Secretariat by May 31, 2010. These contact persons will also function as liaison points for a better flow of information and joint activities, including the preparation of the next Bologna Policy Forum at ministerial level.

6. We welcome the commitment of the European Bologna Follow-up Group to provide expertise on the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.

7. We welcome the initiatives of the institutions and organisations participating in the Second Bologna Policy Forum to promote dialogue and cooperation among higher educations institutions, staff and students and other relevant stakeholders across the world. In this context, we especially acknowledge the need to foster global student dialogue.

8. In September 2010 the OECD will be hosting an international conference on how the crisis is affecting higher education and how governments, institutions and other stakeholders can work towards a sustainable future for the sector. In 2011, a seminar on quality assurance will be organised with the support of the European Union.

9. Cooperation based on partnership between governments, higher education institutions, staff, students and other stakeholders is at the core of the European Higher Education Area. This partnership approach should therefore also be reflected in the organisation of the next Bologna Policy Forum at ministerial level in 2012.

It is too early to determine how effective the [Global] Bologna Policy Forum will be, and some bugs (e.g., the uncertain role of national research sector actors; the uncertain role of sub-national actors in countries (e.g., Canada, Germany, the US) where provinces/states/regions have principal jurisdiction over higher education matters; the incredible diversity of agendas and capabilities of non-EHEA countries vis a vis the forum) will eventually have to be worked out.

This said, it is evident that this forum is serving some important purposes, especially given that there is a genuine longing to engage in supra-national dialogue about policy challenges regarding the globalization of higher education and research. The blossoming of ‘global’ fora sponsored by international organizations (e.g., the OECD, UNESCO), new ‘players (e.g., Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education), key associations of universities (e.g., the International Association of Universities, the European University Association), and universities themselves (e.g., via consortia like the Worldwide Universities Network or the Global Colloquium of University Presidents), are signs that something is up, and that a global higher education and research space is in the process of being constructed.

Over time, of course, the topography of this supra-national landscape of regional, interregional and global fora will evolve, as will the broader topography of the global higher education and research space.  In this context it is critically important to pay attention to how this space is being framed and constructed, for what purposes, and with what possible effects. Moreover, from an organizational perspective, there is no template to follow and much learning is underway. The organization of modernity, to use John Law’s phrase, is underway.

Kris Olds

Euro-Asia university cooperation as a means to enrich academic quality

Editor’s note: The speech below was given by Alistair MacDonald (pictured to the right), Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation Manila. Mr. MacDonald kindly allowed us to reprint his speech below, which was delivered at the Best Practices in University Development through International Cooperation conference, Baguio City, Philippines, 2-4 February 2010.

The conference rationale was framed this way:

Saint Louis University and Benguet State University are organizing an international conference to cap 10 years of fruitful partnership under the Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (Flemish Interuniversity Council)-Philippines Institutional University Cooperation Program. The collaboration between SLU and BSU is the only one of its kind among all the Flemish IUC programs, in that it involves two universities in a single partnership. Despite the differences in structure and development objectives, SLU and BSU worked successfully together in various projects covering Institutional Management, ICT, Library Services, Socio-Economics, and Health and Environment. Thus in this conference, the VLIR, SLU and BSU aim to share best practices in university development cooperation based on the PIUC experience which could serve as a model for other institutions. This will also bring views from all over the globe on the opportunities and challenges of international university development cooperation.

The EU Delegation to the Philippines was established in 1990, as a “fully-fledged diplomatic mission, with the task of officially representing the European Union in the Philippines (in close cooperation with the Embassies of the EU Member States)”. Our thanks to Mr. MacDonald for shedding light on the logics and practices that are shaping the transformation of higher education systems within, as well as linkages between, European and Asian systems of higher education.

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University Cooperation as a Means to Enrich Academic Quality

Remarks by Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, European Union

Baguio, 3 February 2010

Chairman Angeles, Professor Supachai, Fr Hechanova and Dr Tagarino, our visitors from the Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen – good morning, magandang umaga, gooie morgen.

Thank you for inviting me to join you at the opening of your conference – a conference which is an excellent example of cooperation between the Philippines and Belgium, between the EU and Asia. Having been an academic before I became a bureaucrat, higher education remains a subject very close to my heart. Though I must say, having been out of academia for more than 30 years, that I feel pretty nervous speaking in front of such an audience of university presidents, deans, and professors.

At least that means that I don’t need to convince you just how important higher education is to the future of any country, and indeed how important a role higher education plays in building and cementing international relations and international cooperation. International partnerships are becoming increasingly important in the context of globalisation, and the EU sees higher education as a strategic sector for strengthening our partnership and our cooperation with Asia.

I would just like to look today at two main themes – how we have attempted to strengthen higher education across Europe, through the Bologna process, and how we have sought to promote cooperation with third countries in higher education.

1) The Bologna Process

I should underline first that in the EU, the primary responsibility for education rests with the individual Member States, and in some cases (like in Scotland or I believe Belgium, with the national or regional authorities within these States). But the EU has for many years sought to promote cooperation among European universities, through the exchange of students and faculty or the exchange of best practices, and through joint research and degree programmes. The European Commission, as the executive arm of the EU, has played an active part in developing such programmes .

The foundations of our current efforts in this field were laid back in 1999, when Education Ministers from 29 European countries met in Bologna, and committed themselves to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010, in which students can choose from a wide range of high quality courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. Our Education Ministers were concerned to make European higher education more compatible and comparable, promoting free movement across the EU, and at the same time to ensure that it would remain competitive and attractive, both for Europeans and for students and researchers from elsewhere in the world. That was how the so-called “Bologna Process” was born.

Why was it called the Bologna Process? The simple answer is that this meeting was held in Bologna. But at the same time this recognised Bologna’s place in history, as the oldest university in Europe (though not the oldest in the world, which distinction is held in Morocco, I believe). The University of Bologna was founded in 1088, well before Paris, Oxford, etc. My own alma mater, Glasgow University, was a relative latecomer, being established in 1451.

The Bologna Process, from its birth in 1999, had the objective of  making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible across Europe, so that :

  • it will be easy to move from one country to the other (within the European Higher Education Area) – for the purpose of further study or employment;
  • European higher education will become more attractive to students and researchers from outside Europe
  • and in particular that the European Higher Education Area will provide us with a high-quality university network, helping to ensure Europe’s future as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community;

The priorities of the Bologna process are:

  • to introduce the three cycle system (bachelor/master/doctorate) across Europe
  • to set standards for quality assurance and thus of comparability;
  • and to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications and periods of study
  • all of this through the creation of a European Higher Education Area

Twenty-nine countries signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999 (including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), but a total of forty-six countries have now joined the Bologna Process, ranging from Russia to the Holy See. The criteria for accession to the process are simple :

  • being a signatory to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe.
  • and giving a clear commitment to the objectives of the Bologna Process, and presenting a reform programme for that country’s higher education system.

I should underline that the Bologna Process is not in fact an EU process, but an intergovernmental process, whose membership stretches far beyond the EU. Nevertheless, the European Commission is a full member of the Bologna Process, beside the 46 signatory countries. Consultative members include bodies such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO.

In parallel with the the Bologna Declaration, though, and just one year later, the EU also adopted the Lisbon Agenda, setting the objective that Europe should by 2010 become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth, with more and better jobs, and greater social cohesion.

Underlying these parallel initiatives were two main concerns – we needed to protect and promote European competitiveness, ensuring that our young people would be able to find their place in a caring, sharing and dynamic society – and we needed to encourage academic mobility across Europe, breaking down national barriers.

The Bologna Process has already achieved considerable results. There is clearly a strong commitment at national, regional and institutional levels to maintain this momentum, especially following last April’s Ministerial meeting in Belgium (in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve), where the Ministers responsible for higher education in the 46 countries of the Bologna Process met to establish the priorities for the European Higher Education Area until 2020. They highlighted in particular the importance of lifelong learning, of widening access to higher education, and of mobility. And they set the goal that by 2020, at least 20% of those graduating in the European Higher Education Area should have had a study or training period abroad.

At the same time, I have to underline that our educational perspectives were not limited to internal European requirements. The Bologna Ministers also agreed upon an external dimension strategy, focusing on information, promotion, cooperation, recognition and policy dialogue. The EC supports the external dimension strategy through a number of policies and programmes, which I will come to later.

Indeed the international openness of the Bologna Process is a key priority for the EU, especially as there seems to be a great interest in the Bologna reforms from countries outside Europe. Twenty non-European countries attended the first ‘Bologna Policy Forum’, which took place last year in Belgium. This Forum serves as a platform for developing a closer relationship with other regions of the world, and provides an opportunity to promote global cooperation in higher education. The second such Forum will be held in Vienna in March (12 March), and I was very happy to hear that the Philippines has been invited to take part.

2) International academic cooperation

The second main topic I’d like to look at is the manner in which the EU works to promote international academic cooperation, whether through student or faculty exchanges, or through research cooperation, or through inter-university cooperation more generally. Indeed the EU’s policy work in the field of education and training is backed up by a variety of funding programmes implemented by the European Commission. I’m not going to try to be exhaustive here, particularly since I’m sure our colleagues from Flanders will be able to speak of their own experiences under EU-funded programmes in this area, so I’ll just comment briefly on some of our main programmes in this field.

Erasmus Mundus

Just as our flagship programme in the field of student exchanges within the EU is the Erasmus programme – commemorating of course the famous Dutch humanist scholar of the Reformation era, who himself studied and taught in Paris, Leuven, Cambridge, Turin and Basel – so our flagship programme for international academic exchanges is the Erasmus Mundus programme.

Erasmus Mundus was launched in 2004 with a view to promoting the quality, visibility and attractiveness of European higher education by supporting partnerships with non-EU universities in relation to the joint masters’ courses established under the Erasmus progrmme (and including more than one hundred such courses offered by consortia including over 230 European universities). The Erasmus Mundus programme offers scholarships to graduate students and academics from outside the EU to follow these courses, and so far some 6000 students and 660 academics worls-wide have followed these courses. The global budget for the first phase of the programme (2004-2008) was €230 million, 90% of which went into scholarships. In 2005, special regional windows were created under the Erasmus Mundus programme by using additional funds coming from the Community’s development cooperation budget.

Over the period 2004-09, there were about 100 Filipinos who have received such scholarships – and I am delighted to say that all who have completed their training have returned to the Philippines, as ambassadors for European education, just as they were ambassadors for the Philippines when studying in Europe. The returning scholars have also established a very active Alumni Association, with their own website, which also works  to provide information and advice to students thinking of studying in Europe.

Then in 2006 the Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window (EMECW) was established, building on the existing Erasmus Mundus programme to promote academic partnerships and institutional cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe and in partner countries, and including a mobility scheme addressing Erasmus-style student and academic exchanges. Under this programme, calls for proposals were organised in 2007, 2008 and 2009, with total funding for Asia amounting to almost €30 million.

A second phase of the Erasmus Mundus programme was adopted at the end of 2008, covering the period 2009-2013, and building on and extending the scope of the first phase. Erasmus Mundus II covers joint masters and joint doctorate programmes, including scholarships for EU and non-European students and academics (Action 1); partnerships between European universities and universities in specific world regions (former EMECW, now Action 2); and measures to enhance the world-wide appeal of Europe as an education destination (Action 3). New elements of the programme are the inclusion of non-EU institutions as full partners in Erasmus Mundus consortia, the offer of full study scholarships to EU students and the extension of Erasmus Mundus joint programmes to doctoral level.

Erasmus Mundus II has a budget of € 950 million, much higher than in the first phase of the programme. The first joint initiatives under the new actions of Erasmus Mundus II started in academic year 2009/10, but the mobility under the new actions will take place as of 2010/11.

Jean Monnet

Quite apart from the Erasmus programme, and established earlier (in 1990), is the Jean Monnet programme. This specifically supports studies in the field of European integration, and builds on the work of the network of 54 national European Studies Associations. Such associations exist in most of the EU Member States and in several non-EU countries (such as the United States, Canada, Japan, China, India, Korea, Brazil, Argentina …).

The Jean Monnet Programme is intended to enhance knowledge and awareness on European integration, increase the visibility of the EU in the world, stimulate academic excellence in European integration studies, and allow policy-makers to benefit from academic insight. The programme is now part of the Lifelong Learning Programme and funds Jean Monnet chairs, centres of excellence and teaching modules, as well as information and research activities.

Such programmes now exist in 61 countries around the world, with more than 100 Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence, and more than 750 Jean Monnet Chairs. They reach an audience of 250.000 students every year. The highest number of Jean Monnet teaching projects outside the EU can be found in Canada, China, the United States and Turkey.

Research cooperation

Turning to more research-orientated cooperation, the EU has for many years devoted significant resources to supporting applied and pure research in many fields, both within the EU and externally. We are currently implementing the 7th Framework Programme in Research and Technology, covering the period from 2007 to 2013, and with a total budget of over €50 billion. This funding is used to support research, technological development and demonstration projects. Grants are determined on the basis of calls for proposals and peer review, and the selection process is highly competitive. A number of Philippine universities have participated in such programmes, as members of consortia under FP7 and its predecessors – I’m thinking for example of UP, Ateneo, DLS, San Carlos and Siliman.

Apart from our funding possibilities under the Framework Programmes, we have also funded some specific research activities under our classical development cooperation budget. One example is the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN), addressing the digital divide by connecting universities and research institutions in Europe and Asia by means of high-capacity dedicated Internet networks. Currently the third phase of this programme, TEIN3, covers 19 countries in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea in East Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in ASEAN, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia, and Australia). TEIN3 receives an EC grant of over €11 million covering some 60% of the project costs; the remaining funds are provided by the partners on a cost-sharing basis.

3) Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, it is evident that a growing concern of policy makers in Europe and around the world is to ensure that our higher education institutions and systems are “fit for purpose” for the 21st century. This is as much a concern in Asia in general, and the Philippines in particular, as it is in Europe. Globalisation makes it essential for universities to open up to international cooperation, to send and receive more students from abroad, and to ensure that the quality of their teaching and research meets domestic needs and international standards.

These concerns are at the heart of the move to establish a European Higher Education Area in the context of the Bologna process, ensuring that higher education in Europe is fully competitive in the global context, and is able to meet the teaching, research and employment needs of the 21st century. Within the EU, the Lisbon Agenda of 2000, and its likely successor the “EU 2020” programme which the Commission will shortly present, have these concerns at their core. Here in the Philippines, with its long tradition of academic excellence, it is no less essential that the Universities are able to respond to society’s needs – producing the teachers, researchers, skilled workers and entrepreneurs that will drive the country forward, at the same time as the Universities keep alight the value of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. And now more than ever, international university cooperation has a key role to play in promoting mutual understanding, mutual cooperation, and mutual respect.

Thank you for your attention, maraming salamat po, en hartelijk bedankt.

ANNEX

Past Programmes in Asia

  • The Asia Link Programme supported regional networking among higher education institutions in Europe and Asia from 2002 until 2006 (and has since been integrated in the Erasmus Mundus). It included support for joint research work, for curriculum development, and for staff and student exchanges. Nine AsiaLink projects have been implemented in the Philippines, with EC funding totalling some €2.6m (PHP 160m) – in sectors as diverse as mathematics teaching, urban planning, agro-forestry, and biomedical engineering.
  • In past years, we have also funded the EU-ASEAN University Network Programme (2000-06) supporting research and teaching cooperation between universities in ASEAN and their counterparts in Europe, and including two substantial projects with Philippine universities, in mariners’ education and in spatial planning.
  • I can even stretch my mind back to earlier programmes in the 1990s, such as our support for the establishment of a European Studies Consortium in Manila, and for an EU-ASEAN Scholarship programme.

Programmes in other regions

And since this is an international conference I would also like to mention very briefly the international cooperation programmes for higher education and training the European Commission implements in the other regions of the world:

  • Tempus contributes to the building of cooperation in the field of higher education between the EU and partner countries in neighbouring regions, namely in Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The latest phase of the programme, Tempus IV, started in 2008. The annual Tempus budget amounts to around €50 million, and individual projects receive funding between €0.5 and €1.5 million.
  • Edulink fosters capacity building and regional integration in higher education in the Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific region and countries. It also promotes higher education as a means of reducing poverty. This programme is addressed only to institutions, hence individuals can not apply. Between 2006 and 2008 the total funding amounted to €14 million.
  • Alfa is a cooperation programme between higher education institutions in the EU and in Latin America, having as objectives to improve the quality, relevance and accessibility of Higher Education in Latin America; and to contribute to the process of regional integration of Latin America, fostering progress towards the creation of a joint Higher Education area in the region and exploiting its synergies with the EU. The third phase of the programme, ALFA III (2007-2013), has an EU budget of €85m.