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#Erasmus+ - EU boosts participation of African students and staff in 2019

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The EU has invested an additional €17.6 million to support over 8,500 newly selected African students and staff to participate in Erasmus+ in 2019. This increase in Erasmus+ funding is one more step towards the commitment announced by President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union speech in September 2018 to have supported 35,000 African students and researchers by 2020.

Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said: "Empowering young people in Africa is key in building a better future. This means promoting education, and this year, we have focused in particular on boosting cooperation with businesses to ensure that young people in Africa acquire all the skills they need for their professional life. Projects supporting innovative learning methods, entrepreneurship and opening up chances to find jobs in key areas such as food, agribusiness and energy transformation are key features of this year's selection. This is the plus that Erasmus+ offers.”

International Co-operation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica said: “Our Africa-Europe Alliance is first and foremost about people. We want to invest in quality education in Africa. We want to strengthen the connections between European and African students and higher education institutions. Giving them the chance to exchange know-how and inspire one another will boost inclusive socio-economic growth, and reduce poverty and inequality. On top of this, it will equip African students with the skills they need to find decent jobs.”

The results of the 2019 Erasmus+ call bring the total number of exchanges between Africa and Europe to 26,247 since the beginning of the programme in 2014 and well on track to meeting the 2020 target of supporting 35,000 people as announced in the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. This year, 8,555 African and 4,649 European university students and staff will benefit from exchanges in 53 African countries and the 34 European countries that participate in the Erasmus+ programme. Students will be able to stay abroad for up to one year, while staff exchanges last up to two months.

The additional funding of €17.6m – coming from the Commission's external financial instruments and the EU Trust Fund for Africa –has boosted participation by African nationals by 40% overall. For countries in Western Africa and the Horn of Africa, the number of scholarships has more than doubled thanks to the additional money. It has also made it possible to include more countries in the programme, such as Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo and Burundi, and to increase the number of exchanges, in particular for Benin, Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia.

In addition, competing against the best students worldwide, 313 young students from 33 African countries were awarded scholarships for the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes. This is up from 239 scholarships from 27 African countries in last year's selection. African institutions are increasingly involved in teaching the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master programmes, with 46 institutions from the continent collaborating in running the 44 programmes selected this year. They range from specialised universities to research institutes active in areas such as infectious diseases, biodiversity and ecosystems, or harnessing the power of cloud computing to benefit the environment.

35 projects promoting capacity building in higher education that are designed to improve the quality and innovation of programmes in African universities have been chosen for support. This year's selection covers a wider range of countries than ever before, with Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritania and Guinea participating in addition to the more traditional partners, which is a sign that Erasmus+ is successfully reaching out to new institutions on the continent.

Moreover, 39 small-scale projects have been selected for funding that help build capacity in the youth sector with African partners. These projects, involving youth organisations and the non-profit sector (NGOs and social businesses for example), promote informal learning and help young people start their own businesses and play an active part in their local communities.

Background

Investing in inclusive and equitable quality education for all is a key priority for the EU, in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Education at all levels and investment in young people are vital for improvements in skills and employment, for sustainable growth, and for active citizenship.

Investing in people by investing in education and skills is one of the cornerstones of the Africa-Europe Alliance, which aims to take the EU's partnership with Africa to the next level. To do so, the Commission proposes to boost investment, to further attract private investors, to support education and skills development for employability, as well as to boost trade and improve the business climate.

Besides setting up new areas and new channels for co-operation, the Africa-Europe Alliance also seeks to leverage the potential of the EU's existing programmes for international cooperation. Channelling additional funding into Erasmus+ is boosting participation by African people and organizations with the objective of supporting the mobility of 35,000 students and researchers from the African continent by 2020, leading to a total number of 105,000 by 2027.

Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. Erasmus+ funds academic and youth mobility and co-operation between Europe and other regions in the world, including Africa, where it supports activities that are closely matched with the EU's policy co-operation priorities for the continent. African countries have been able to take part in Erasmus+ as partner countries since 2014.

More information

Factsheet

Africa-Europe Alliance

The Africa-EU Partnership

Erasmus+

Adult learning

#Coronavirus - British universities should not reopen in September, says union

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British universities should scrap plans to reopen in September to prevent travelling students from fuelling the country’s coronavirus pandemic, a union said, calling for courses to be taught online. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has come under fire over its moves to restart education, especially after a row over exam results for school students and a failed attempt to bring all pupils back to their classes earlier this year, writes Elizabeth Piper.

Johnson has been calling on Britons to return to something more akin to normality after the coronavirus lockdown, calling on workers to return to offices to help the economy recover from a 20% contraction in the April-June period.

But the University and College Union (UCU) said it was too early to send students back to universities, warning they could be blamed if cases of COVID-19 increased. “Moving a million plus students around the country is a recipe for disaster and risks leaving ill-prepared universities as the care homes of a second wave,” UCU general secretary Jo Grady said in a statement. “It is time for the government to finally take some decisive and responsible action in this crisis and tell universities to abandon plans for face-to-face teaching,” she said, urging the government to move all teaching online for the first term.

Stephen Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury (finance ministry), said he did not agree with the argument. “I think universities like the rest of the economy need to come back and students need to be able to do so,” he told Times Radio. Several universities say they are ready to reopen next month after weeks of preparation and some students say they have already spent money on such things as housing in preparation for the new term.

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#Coronavirus - #Erasmus+ mobilized for a strong response to the pandemic

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The Commission has adopted a revision of the Erasmus+ 2020 Annual Work Programme, providing an additional €200 million to boost digital education and training and promote skills development and inclusion through creativity and the arts. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive impact on education and training, with new ways of teaching and learning requiring innovative, creative and inclusive solutions.

Promoting the European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “The European Education Area needs to foster digital education and skills to mitigate disruptions caused by the pandemic and to support Europe's role in the digital transition. The Commission will publish extraordinary Erasmus+ calls of €200 million that will offer more opportunities to learn, teach and share in the digital era. Effective, innovative and inclusive solutions to improve digital education and skills do exist and will benefit from European support.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “I am delighted that the Erasmus+ programme is being mobilised to support key actors in education, training and youth in these challenging times. €200 million will be available to support digital education and training, digital youth work, but also creative skills and social inclusion. It is an important step, paving the way for the Digital Education Action Plan, which the Commission will launch this autumn.”

The Erasmus+ programme will support projects to enhance digital teaching, learning and assessment in schools, higher education and vocational training. It will also provide opportunities for schools, youth organisations and adult learning institutions to support skills development, to boost creativity and to enhance social inclusion through the arts, together with the cultural and creative sectors. Calls for proposals for projects in these areas will be published in the coming weeks. Interested organisations should get in touch with their Erasmus+ National Agency

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#Scotland axes downgraded exam grades in prelude to possible UK problems

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Scottish students will have downgraded examination results used to secure university places raised back to original levels set by teachers, as Edinburgh faces anger at a problem caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which could also play out in England. With almost no examinations taking place, teachers graded pupils in key subjects and the marks were then moderated by examination boards. To the dismay of pupils and parents, 75,000 young people saw their grades revised down, writes Costas Pitas.

Similar issues could begin to emerge on Thursday (13 August) when students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A level results, on which many university places are based. “All downgraded awards will be withdrawn,” said Scotland’s education minister John Swinney. “In exceptional times, truly difficult decisions have to be made. It is deeply regrettable that we got this wrong and I am sorry for that.”

While England and Scotland operate different systems, both saw schools shut for most pupils from March, forcing the cancellation of many examinations and prompting special procedures to be implemented. The regulator in England, Ofqual, has said it will weigh up a number of factors as it issues marks later this week, including ensuring that the grades allow pupils to fairly compete with previous and future cohorts.

“We have put in place special arrangements for this summer to make sure that the vast majority of students will receive calculated grades, so they can progress to further study or employment as expected,” it said in late July.

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