The new LLP: Towards a European Higher Education Area

28 February 2011

by Guusje ter Horst, president of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO-raad)

'Bologna' and European initiatives in mobility, education and training such as Erasmus have been important catalysts for a new way of thinking about education in Europe. I believe we now all share the ambition to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA), in which differentiated higher education institutions offer the best education and where student and teacher mobility are fostered. There are still important steps to be taken before we truly live in this European Higher Education Area. A new Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP2) that is more flexible, more focused on institutional cooperation and less bureaucratic would help a great deal.

2011 will be an important year given the adoption of the Youth on the Move flagship initiative and the consultation on the new Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP2),  both of which have put education on top of the agenda. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the new LLP which can have a strong effect on mobility and cooperation between higher education institutions. 

Let’s start with mobility. Mobility is not an end in itself, but can be a tool for students and teachers to increase their knowledge and develop intercultural skills. Much has been done in the past to enhance mobility of teachers and students in higher education but there are still some obstacles to overcome. What would help greatly is more flexibility for the institutions. In the current LLP, for example, there is a minimum duration of ten working days for the Intensive Programmes, while staff training has a minimum duration of five working days. Why not allow an Intensive Programme of less than ten days, especially since quality is much more important than duration? Another example: one year, students are more interested in internships and the next year there might be a higher demand for study mobility. The current LLP is not flexible enough to adjust to the needs of students, teachers and institutions, the new LLP could be different in that aspect.

Another important aspect is cooperation at the institutional level. The LLP facilitates this cooperation between higher education institutions across Europe, which is instrumental in promoting the international dimension of higher education and in improving the quality of mobility. We cannot put an end to existing problems - such as significant study delays and problems with the transfer of credits – without strong institutional cooperation within Europe. And we cannot realise the European Higher Education Area without joint curriculum development, mobility windows and strong international networks of institutions. Therefore, I hope the European Commission (EC) will intensify its efforts to promote institutional cooperation, for example through the academic networks.

Finally, I would like to ask attention for a simplification of the administrative processes. Nobody opposes a thorough oversight process, but I am sure more can be done to make things a little easier for our institutions.

In short, I believe a more flexible LLP with less administrative burdens and more focus on promoting institutional cooperation will bring the European Higher Education Area a little closer. I am looking forward to the European Commission’s proposal.

Read more about: 

Sign up for our newsletter

Keep up with our latest news.

Need more info ?

Ask your question to one of our collaborators

Related articles

Mid-term Erasmus+: what do national reports tell us?

Erasmus+ needs to have a bigger budget and be more inclusive, according to the Erasmus+ mid-term evaluation. Most countries agree on these issues and other key areas for improvement, but there are...

Read more

Neth-ER: Erasmus+ needs a bigger budget to realise full potential!

Neth-ER argues that at least 2.5% of the EU budget should be dedicated to Erasmus+’s successor programme, with an absolute amount of at least 3 billion euro’s per programme year. This is Neth-ER’s...

Read more

New Skills Agenda; a good start

The New Skills Agenda for Europe is a good step in addressing the skills gap and skills mismatch in Europe, but there are still some questions concerning the implementation. That is the general...

Read more

Thyssen: New Skills Agenda aims to build bridges between education and labour market

With high (youth) unemployment throughout the continent and with a rapidly changing demand for skills, making sure people acquire the right skills is of utmost importance. To address these...

Read more