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Procedure : 2011/2294(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0057/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0057/2012

Debates :

PV 19/04/2012 - 18
CRE 19/04/2012 - 18

Votes :

PV 20/04/2012 - 10.2
CRE 20/04/2012 - 10.2
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0139

Debates
Thursday, 19 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

18. Modernising Europe's higher education systems (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. - The next item is the report submitted by László Tőkés on behalf of the Committee on Culture and Education on the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems (2011/2087(INI))

 
  
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  László Tőkés, rapporteur. Mr President, I apologise for being late, but on the screen it was shown as being ten minutes later. I will give my presentation in Hungarian.

(HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour for me to be the rapporteur for the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Committee on Culture and Education, as well as its expert and advisory groups, the shadow rapporteurs of the various Groups, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, and all my dear colleagues, as well as the Committee of the Regions, the European University Association, and the various student representations who contributed to this report through considerable professional efforts, a constructive attitude and close cooperation.

One of the reasons why the task of rapporteur is important and represents a special challenge to me is that I come from a region of Central and Eastern Europe, and a country that recently acceded to the European Union, that is, Romania, where totalitarian dictatorship had placed barriers before the development of a system of higher educational institutions in the democratic sense, had showed gross disregard for the autonomy of universities, and had degraded the whole of educational policy to a stage and an instrument of social and political oppression. Bearing all this in mind, we can rightly and legitimately conclude that former communist countries that acceded to the EU have a twofold stake in the transformation and modernisation of higher education. To them it represents both a continuation of the democratic change of regime started in 1989 and of the fight against the crisis inherited from the past, and a process of catching up with the developed Western European Member States of the EU in the framework of the European Higher Education Area.

The 180 motions for amendment tabled for the draft report are another indication that in these times, when a complex crisis is afflicting our continent, the modernisation of the higher education system of Europe can be considered a call of the age. Accordingly, through the modernisation of higher education systems the report seeks to address the extraordinary challenges posed, among other factors, by the general economic crisis, the constraint of budgetary deficit, the increased rate of unemployment or the demographic crisis that continues to mount. Higher education is a common European value. Its reform is possible only in the context of a simultaneous involvement of EU, Member State and regional levels, taking account of the fact that higher education could play a key role in promoting social inclusion.

The report calls on higher education institutions to join efforts with each other and with their external partners, local governments, civil organisations and business sector participants to provide all social groups, including deprived people, with the possibility of pursuing studies in higher education. In this context the EU and Parliament also use this as an opportunity to take action against any form of discrimination and to stand up for the fundamental values of cultural and linguistic diversity. Accordingly, the report encourages Member States to pay special attention and provide financial support to higher education institutions serving national, ethnic and linguistic minorities. I will skip a part.

Let me conclude my presentation by mentioning young people, who hold the key to our future. It is well known that in some Member States, especially in the societies of post-communist countries, there is an extremely high rate of youth unemployment. We hope that this report and the relevant EU policy and measures will, together with the Berlinguer report adopted in March, deliver a significant contribution to ensuring that European youth can have access to worthy employment opportunities and be able to make a living in accordance with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). - (SL) Mr President, I would like to thank rapporteur László Tőkés for his excellent report. It is the best report yet on the subject, and, along with the previous reports on this issue, is further proof of the European Parliament's efforts to modernise the European Higher Education Area.

For centuries in Europe, universities have been the source, the origin of progress and a cradle of values. This is how it must remain in the future, when we talk of third-generation or third-level universities. Therefore, they must be more open, especially to the economy, and establish, in the words of Mr Tőkés, a Knowledge Alliance.

To achieve more effective dialogue with universities, we must also increase our efforts in the economy. The competencies and skills needed should be published to enable them to modernise their curricula and study programmes. This will ensure consistency.

Of course, I still welcome the creation of new tools for U-Multirank, which should be a comprehensive ranking system, better than the scale we currently use.

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR). - (CS) Mr President, in connection with this report, I would like to voice my support for the successful Erasmus programme, which encourages mobility and multilingualism among university students. I would also like to emphasise that, in order for Europe to confront the ever fiercer competition on Asian markets, we must exploit every possible potential in science, research and the engineering professions. I am thinking here mainly of the unused potential of women who work in higher education and women who work in science.

There is no convincing reason in our century why, in the selection of a field of study and subsequently on the labour market as well, gender-based horizontal segregation should still persist. Perhaps this is because, even in higher education and in science, we often encounter traditional notions of the division of gender roles, which then become an accepted social norm.

I firmly believe, however, that we will not break away from the prevailing structures and traditional notions on the basis of quotas. These ideas have unfortunately been incorporated into the opinion on this report on behalf of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, for which I was a rapporteur, but I must say here that I am fundamentally opposed to these mandatory measures.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, Europe needs competitive universities offering curricula that meet the labour market’s requirements. I support the need to correlate the specialist courses offered by education institutions and the opportunity of obtaining employment, as specified in Article 27. The number of students in Romania has quadrupled in the last 20 years, but most of them experience difficulties in finding jobs to match their qualifications. Programmes are also needed to make it easier for graduates to find their first job and take part in ongoing vocational training. I should highlight how important it is for students to be involved in modernising higher education. On this point, I should mention the dissatisfaction expressed by student associations with regard to the Erasmus for All programme. The main criticisms concern the proposal’s shortcomings in areas such as non-formal education, interactive learning and the involvement of young people in democratic life.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, the modernisation of European higher education systems in relation to the changing needs of the European economy and society is a challenge of a bold visionary reform that will not only help the EU to face global competition, but that also has the potential to return Europe to the forefront of the most dynamic economies in the world. In this regard, the higher education system must orientate itself more towards future business needs and provide the effective transfer of the most advanced knowledge and skills from universities directly into practice. In many Member States, we are currently witnessing a lack of university-qualified technical and scientific professionals and doctors together with an excess of humanities graduates, which has a negative effect on the employment situation and on research and development, innovation and, ultimately, economic growth. I will cut my contribution short, and thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak.

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I will not betray your trust in me and will finish two seconds before the time allocated. Mr President, Commissioner, there are a number of positive aspects to this report. These include its emphasis on the autonomy of higher education institutions, its support for the Erasmus programme, and the reference to the need to recognise qualifications acquired at home universities. The report also calls for action under the European neighbourhood policy (ENP) and cooperation with countries covered by this policy. Lastly, the report points out that the role of universities should not be reduced solely to their contribution to the economy.

At the same time, however, the report contains a number of worrying points, such as, for example, the introduction of uniform criteria for the creation of rankings of higher education institutions, and the requirement to spend at least one semester at a university other than the university to which the student is affiliated. This means that we will unfortunately have to abstain from supporting this report.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, the so-called Bologna Process and the modernisation – in is broadest possible sense – of the higher education system has had disastrous aspects in Portugal. Rather than the trumpeted student mobility, what has happened is that higher education has been divided into two cycles and has consequently become elitist, thereby increasing higher education costs for the majority of students. There are students coming out of university today who have no money to pay their tuition fees, their living costs, or any of the other costs associated with being in higher education. For these students, the modernisation of the higher education system is merely a mirage.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE).(RO) Mr President, the European economy can overcome the current economic crisis if we focus greater attention on the education system, in particular higher education, as also stipulated in the Europe 2020 strategy. This will enable us to increase our economy’s global competitiveness in general. However, making competitive investments in higher education is not enough. It is important, rather, for us to facilitate the transition of young people to the labour market, especially as the unemployment rate among this group is twice as high as the general average.

In addition, it is vital to ensure the quality of the actual education provided. With this in mind, I have suggested introducing a standard mechanism for monitoring and evaluating compliance with academic standards in both public and private higher education institutions. In this regard, I also support the importance of reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications in the EU, which allows the free movement of labour in a Europe facing increasingly serious demographic challenges. I wish to congratulate my colleague for this balanced report which is extremely pertinent for future generations.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D). (SK) Mr President, I am certain that none of us would protest against the fact that the universities really will need to be modernised and that our university teaching programmes will have to be reviewed if we are truly to prepare young people for the labour market so that they are employable, and one of the options that we can apply right now is to encourage more women to enter into education, since we know that 60% of people leaving higher education are women. How is it possible that only 9% of them are running universities, for example? In other words, there really is a need to provide education for women and to offer them opportunities so that they can also lead and support universities or their faculties. Similarly, it is very important to support science and research in universities, not only to bring more women into science and research, but generally to promote science and research not only in universities but also in cooperation between universities, and I think that this is very well stated in the report by Mr Tökés. I would like to conclude with an idea that is very important to me. We were discussing the difference between loans and grants. I am very glad that Parliament has played a very important role in adopting the very clear position that we do not wish to support loans at the expense of grants, especially for socially disadvantaged groups.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr President, as a former educationalist myself, I could speak all night on this, but I do not have much time. I must say this is perhaps one of the best-thought-out proposals we have had before the European Parliament. I compliment the rapporteur and the Commission on the challenges it poses for the third-level institutes, particularly to meet the 2020 target of 40% students going on to third level and getting a qualification. It points out the challenges.

I suppose the main challenge is to link with the labour market, because that is going to be essential if we are going to be competitive on the world stage. It points out some things we need to do. One point with which I agree completely is that the gender equity situation is appalling for institutes that regard themselves as perhaps the most broadminded in the world. The emphasis on sport is very important, as is the potential in Erasmus.

The final point I would like to make is that we should stop talking about professors and lecturers at third level. They should see themselves as teachers. If they teach, students will learn and then the economy will benefit.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE).(EL) Mr President, I too should like to congratulate the rapporteur on his exceptional work. Having read his report and in light of our EU 2020 strategy, we all agree that we need to invest in education and increase the percentage of higher education graduates. At the same time, however, we can see the real reductions – of up to 10% − in government spending on higher education in numerous Member States, especially those under pressure from the economic crisis, which means the countries in the South. There are serious contradictions, therefore, between the objectives, between the announcements and reality.

As education and modernising education, which are the subject of today’s debate, require practical results, not just findings, as investment in the knowledge triangle is a priority for growth in national economies, I should like to ask the Commission if it is considering proposing that the Member States exempt higher education from general cuts in government spending or if it will propose compensatory measures, because the public rightly finds it absurd that we are talking about modernisation, on the one hand, and, at the same time, are making massive cuts to higher education, on the other.

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI).(HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I was very pleased when I saw the name of Mr Tőkés next to the report, as he is a former reformed bishop and a member of the Hungarian community of Transylvania. One would therefore have legitimately expected to see an effort to infuse this report with the fundamental principles of Christianity on the one hand, and the representation of indigenous European minorities on the other. However, I find that the report is unfortunately lacking in this respect, because of its 74 points only one concerns minority higher education, and perhaps four points are about gender balance in higher education; I find this disproportionate, as not all countries are like Belgium where bilingualism is a given, and to this day we have Romania where at the university of Cluj-Napoca, for example, one is faced with difficulties when trying to put up Hungarian-language signposts. Thus, even though I have high regard for the work of Mr Tőkés, I cannot vote for it.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, quality education of the young is a basic requirement for the dynamic development of society. University education has a rich tradition in the European Union, and studying at a university is not only a question of social prestige for young people, but also an essential prerequisite for gaining a good job. The current economic problems, however, show us that the structure of higher education institutions does not correspond to the needs of a changing labour market, resulting in a high percentage of university graduates who cannot find suitable work in their field. We must therefore make more efforts to effectively bring higher education institutions closer to the needs of the labour market, so that the course structures offered by them correspond to the changing social and economic conditions. Support for university and higher education by Member States and the European Union is needed, but should be targeted only at those institutions whose graduates find suitable work in society after they leave higher education. Therefore, we must introduce new and better motivational criteria in their funding.

 
  
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  Piotr Borys (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I would like to congratulate Mr Tőkés on his report. It is true that in our day-to-day work we concentrate on current problems, on the ongoing crisis, on firefighting. Today’s report, however is a horizontal one, which means that the effects of the actions taken now may only be felt by future generations.

Europe’s future competitiveness does indeed lie in the cultivation of innovation, skills, training and in the education of the younger generation. The entire system requires transformation, a process which, of course, must be driven by universities. Unfortunately, the latter are not competitive at the present time. We have been placed at the lower end of the Shanghai ranking, and I therefore think that effective implementation of the Youth in Action programme is essential. This programme runs in parallel with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Programme, which thanks to the Commissioner, inter alios, now bears its full Polish name. We must, of course, invest in innovation and in competitiveness linked to research and the labour market. This is why it is so important for the future structural policy, the future Horizon 2020 programme, to be able to truly modernise universities.

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Mr President, in the name of the Commission I welcome the report by Mr Tőkés. We welcome Parliament’s voice on this issue (for the second time recently), so this is clearly very high on your agenda. It is a timely voice, as we are confronted with the following situation.

On the one hand, nobody is denying that the knowledge-based economy is the future of Europe. On the other hand, education at a stressful time of austerity is one of the areas which is heavily cut in national budgets. In response to the comments of Mr Papanikolaou, I have to say that we are repeatedly underlining that, even in a time of austerity, training and education should be defended in the national budgets. Otherwise we are running the risk of undermining the future prospects of Europe.

We are also fully aware of the paradox of today’s Europe, which is that we are relatively well equipped with highly-qualified labour in our continent. On the other hand, we are confronted with a problem of structural unemployment, especially when it comes to what is already called a lost generation.

The interplay between education and the labour market is thus a complex one, and we need reforms – and not only so we can move towards so-called global competitiveness. This must be done, as in the future the demand here will be for higher rather than lower qualifications. On the other hand we have to involve business communities and other partners in order to ensure that the graduates leaving our schools are equipped with useful employment skills (including vocational skills) and that this is not just producing unemployed people in Europe.

I acknowledge that Mr Tőkés’s report endorses the agenda proposed by the Commission in September 2011 involving the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and our multidimensional approach to the ranking of universities, youth opportunities and projects such as knowledge alliances.

We appreciate what is needed in the partnership in order to ensure decent budgeting for a future generation of the programmes: the Institute; the Marie Curie programme (to be renamed Marie Skłodowska-Curie) and Erasmus For All. Let me clarify one point that is proposed by the Commission. The Erasmus Master Student Loan guarantee, a part of Erasmus For All, is an additional tool supporting students which is complementary to the grants, which will remain the major engine of our programmes.

What comes in the future is not only about reinforcing good education but also concerns supporting education partnerships. One more, Mr Tőkés, thank you for the really constructive tone of your report.

 
  
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  President. - This item is closed.

The vote will take place on Friday, 20 April 2012 at 12:00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing.(HU) I would like to congratulate Mr Tőkés on his report, which provides a comprehensive picture of the situation of European higher education. Before all else I would like to highlight the role of sport in education, to which the report clearly calls attention in several points. I find it essential that despite the crisis we maintain stable financing for European higher education, both from Member State funding and from the EU budget. I agree with the rapporteur that we must ensure the continued funding and development of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology seated in Budapest. I submitted a proposal requesting that the Commission draft a strategy for the mitigation of regional differences between Western and Central and Eastern European higher education institutions. Finally, to ensure that students are not indebted by the time they complete their studies and are not burdened by excessive debt when entering the labour market, I propose the re-evaluation of the double-edged effects of student loans.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Although Europe has around 19 million students and more than 4000 higher education institutions, currently only 26% of the workforce has high-level qualifications. Responsibility for higher education rests mainly with Member States and the higher education institutions themselves. They face a number of challenges at present. These include the question of graduate numbers, improving access to higher education, and adapting syllabuses to meet labour market requirements. This is one of the possibilities that would enable graduates to gain employment corresponding to the education they have acquired. Monitoring of professional employment and the availability of internationally comparable data on graduates can help higher education institutions to better fulfil their roles. In the context of the current economic crisis, it is important that higher education institutions continue to be well funded. It is pleasing that access to education is improving for people from all social backgrounds. In connection with this, however, schools must cope with an increase in the number of students and a varied student base. They frequently also adapt their teaching methods to students with different needs. I firmly believe that, in order to modernise higher education, it will be necessary to take steps so that Member States do not fall behind the higher education provided elsewhere in the world. European higher education must move forward if we are to maintain, or even improve, Europe’s global competitiveness.

 
  
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  Kinga Gál (PPE), in writing.(HU) I find the report of Mr Tőkés concerning higher education to be highly important. We all know that the acquisition of high-quality, truly useful and usable knowledge is in the interest of present and future generations, and the whole of Europe. The higher education institutions of our time must offer competitive knowledge, and must do so by following actual demands on the labour market. In this context, I would like to specifically highlight the issue of the access of national minorities to higher education in their native language. The motto of the European Union is ‘United in diversity’. The preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity therefore requires that these national minority communities are able to preserve their distinctiveness, represent their interests and stand up for the rights to which they are entitled. To this end, however, national minorities, similar to majority societies, need well-educated leadership, an elite. And in order to have such an elite – possessing reliable, competitive knowledge – to represent the interests of these communities, there is definitely a need for high-standard, high-quality and not the least native-language higher education, and for the majority society to support and guarantee such education. Majority societies should therefore give special attention and support to the higher education institutions of traditional national, ethnic and linguistic minorities, in particular where endangered cultures and languages are concerned.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE), in writing.(IT) Education means using intelligent methods to give expression to each person’s intrinsic potential. Increasing education, training and research is a cornerstone of growth and modernisation in higher education. However, the success of tertiary education also depends on policies to improve the social inclusion of minorities, gender equality and cutting the number of school-leavers. On top of these goals, there is the aim of encouraging institutions to systematically integrate mobility for education purposes within their programmes. Suitable funding is, however, required in order to achieve this: currently it is just 1.3% of gross domestic product, compared with 2.7% in the USA. Language skills are, moreover, in high demand among businesses and good skills in this area improve job prospects. Also connected to this is the equally important subject of e-learning: the fusion of education and computer literacy, which provides innovative ways for teaching new generations. Europe’s future strength in this area will depend on putting higher education at the heart of innovation, creating jobs and employable skills, and on the ability of higher education institutions to play a full role in the knowledge triangle: connecting teaching, research and business to boost excellence and regional development.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. I would like to warmly congratulate my colleague László Tőkés for his report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems, which rightly calls on Member States and higher education institutions to widen access for students from all social backgrounds, since higher education has the potential to promote social inclusion and upward social mobility, benefiting disadvantaged communities in a complex way, with its positive socio-economic impacts reaching far beyond the individual concerned. The attendance of disadvantaged young people and especially of Roma in higher education institutions is astoundingly low. Aid mechanisms, such as scholarships and mentoring support, should be established therefore for young Roma, to inspire them not only to obtain diplomas but also to enrol in higher education establishments. A system of perks should also be considered, which would increase the participation of Roma youth in such institutions and improve their qualifications. It is also very important to keep track of the employment outcomes of graduates and to measure how higher education responds to labour market demands. The Commission and Member States therefore need to collect and publish statistical data regarding the correlation between different higher education degrees and employment opportunities.

 
  
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  Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) The report calls for the modernisation of higher education systems. It shows that more than one third of the population should have a university-level qualification by 2020. In the report, the author makes an incorrect reference to ‘high level qualifications’. In my experience, there is a very loose connection between a college degree and high level qualifications. It is correctly said that Member States are responsible for higher education, despite which there have been repeated attempts over the years to declare certain types of higher education to be the best. A typical example of the failure of such attempts is the large-scale churning out of ‘practically oriented’ bachelor degrees under the Bologna Declaration. Most university lecturers - particularly from technical fields where there is a real need for sound expertise, and where the results of studies are relatively easy to compare between individual institutions - agree that bachelor level university studies should form the theoretical basis for further engineering or masters studies. Student loans are not considered a real support or an improvement in study conditions, either at home or abroad. They are an attempt to restrict, using social censorship, the possibility of studying for students from low-income families, and instead to support the richest in making a start in life after studies. The reference to lifelong learning looks very artificial. I would therefore like to express my profound discomfort over this report.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing.(HU) It is an unfortunate fact that in most Member States even people with higher education qualifications are having an increasingly difficult time finding employment, and I therefore consider it important to modernise higher education systems and implement reforms. The economic crisis has resulted in major budgetary cuts in education, despite the fact that it is primarily vocational training and higher education that are in need of modernisation in order to combat the crisis. It is this area where there is the greatest need for a reform programme in order to be able to keep pace with the new demands of a rapidly changing labour market and organisation of work. We must be able to give up-to-date responses to challenges. Therefore, sustainable higher education must continue to be based on state investments, thus providing as many people as possible with access to higher education. The establishment of new lines of study must reflect the labour market demands of the various countries. This can only be ensured through research, surveys, and continuous and mutual cooperation with corporations. The number of European students graduating abroad is continuously rising, but there are unfortunately still problems in respect of the mutual recognition of degrees, which also presents a disadvantage in terms of employment. I agree that Member States should reinforce cooperation between their competent ministries in the field of higher education with a view to ensuring the mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications and improving their harmonisation.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing.(PL) The modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems needs to be a wide-ranging process encompassing, amongst others, procedural, financial, and organisational aspects. The concept of lifelong learning is worth promoting and achieving via the introduction of specific study programmes provided by higher education institutions. The curricula of higher education institutions should be revised on a continuous basis in order to respond to economic requirements, in particular, to those of the rapidly changing labour market. At the same time, efforts should be made to achieve continuous scientific and technological progress. An appropriate level of academic standards should be maintained and constantly monitored at both public and private higher education institutions. As the rapporteur rightly observed, the central issue is to broaden access to higher education, making it available to as many Europeans as possible in order to deal with the economic crisis more effectively and to enhance Europe’s competitiveness. Consequently, cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and higher education institutions should serve to facilitate the exchange of information regarding the demand for workers with specific skill sets and competencies, as well as enabling students to take part in professional traineeships. It is very important to support and promote student mobility schemes, as the latter enable students to gain new experiences and subsequently to disseminate best practices in their home universities.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE), in writing.(HU) I welcome the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems, as I am convinced that the global competitiveness of the European Union depends on Member State activities in this field. I am particularly pleased to note that the report calls on Member States to pay increased attention to, and to support higher education and institutions serving traditional national, ethnic or linguistic minorities. This call is highly important because at institutions providing education in the language of indigenous national minorities as well, we can often see attempts to suffocate or diminish minority language education. At least this is what was happening in Eastern Europe during the communist era, and in some cases unfortunately continues to this day. We, Hungarians of Transylvania, are currently trying to mitigate the effects of these destructive efforts, and it is our resolute intention to ensure the completeness of the network of Hungarian-language higher education. Unfortunately in our efforts we cannot always count on cooperation from our Romanian colleagues, which is why it is very important for the position of the European institutions to confirm our objectives.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D), in writing. – (DE) The creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is an important means of ensuring that Europe can maintain and develop its global competitiveness. What is needed most importantly is increased mobility for students. A variety of programmes, such as Erasmus, have made a significant contribution to Europe’s current leading position in the world. Internally, programmes like this help to enhance the feeling of solidarity within Europe. Unfortunately, in many Member States the implementation of the Bologna process has resulted in many students being unwilling to include periods of study abroad in their courses. The increasing pressure to perform which is being applied by some universities in this context also makes it more difficult for students to be mobile and this is something which is very important. Therefore, in the next stages of the reform process we must give priority to ensuring that we do not make students even more unwilling to study abroad. In addition to the Commission’s programmes, we also need institutional incentives as part of the process of reforming study courses.

 
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