Brussels.- The Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou, welcomed Deputy Secretary General for Higher Education & Research, Prof. Ilan Chet, at the premises of the European Commission in Brussels. Professor Chet presented the mission, the structure and the functioning of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, emphasizing the work done so far by the Division of Higher Education and Research. He also shed light on the EMUNI Master and PhD study programmes, recently endorsed by the UfM Senior Officials. In addition to this, he explained the new project currently in process: the establishment of a new Euro-Mediterranean University in Fes (Morocco), country which will be visited by the Commissioner in January 2012, together with Tunis. Last but not least, Prof. Chet proposed organizing joint conferences with the European Commission at the premises of the Secretariat in Barcelona.
From her end, Mrs. Vassiliou said that the Arab Revolution led the EC to increase the assistance to the South Mediterranean countries. She added that the number of fellowships will be 700 this year instead of 200. Furthermore, the Commissioner highlighted several programmes promoted by the EC such as TEMPUS, which supports the modernization of higher education through university cooperation projects; ERASMUS, which stimulates the mobility between the students; and the Marie Curie Actions programme, which funds the best young researchers. In addition, Mrs. Vassiliou elaborated that since 2008 and through the ENPI project (1 Mil EUR), the EC is one of the main channels of funding of EMUNI University together with the Government of Slovenia.
Prof. Chet and Mrs. Vassiliou agreed that the image of the Vocational Training should be improved in the Southern Mediterranean countries. Both parties shared on supporting novel initiatives such as the Second Chance School (which aims the social and professional reintegration of unemployed young adults, mostly coming from North Africa, who left the national school system for at least one year without obtaining any qualification or degree) and the European Training Foundation (which helps transition and developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labor market systems in the context of the EU’s external relations policy). The EC has already begun to work towards this direction and is promoting at the moment a new policy to pave the way for better access for vocational institutions to universities.
Prof. Ilan Chet was in Brussels in order to participate in the meeting “EMUNI University 3 years down the road: Progress, challenges and ways forward“ on the Bologna process. This meeting was hosted by the European Parliament.