EU Education, training and youth programmes
Education, training and youth programmes are the EU’s main instruments in pursuit of its common education policy. The new “Erasmus+” programme was launched on 1 January 2014 to replace the “Lifelong Learning” and “Youth in Action” programmes. Erasmus+ has a budget of EUR 14.8 billion and will continue until 2020.
Adoption of the initiative against mass immigration and its impact for Switzerland.
The Erasmus+ programme is comprised of three main priority areas (referred to as “Key Actions”). The activities carried out within this framework and the corresponding opportunities are open to all institutions at all levels within the education system (compulsory education, vocational education and training, higher education, and continuing education and training) as well as to institutions that deal with extracurricular activities. Compared to its forerunner, which was comprised of a wide range of different mobility and cooperation projects at different educational levels as well as over 70 different “Actions”, Erasmus+ offers a greatly simplified structure. Most of the activities, however, will continue in a slightly modified form.
Learning mobility of individuals (KA1): The aim of this Key Action is to support learning across national boundaries as well as the mobility of students and teachers. Secondary activities include stays abroad in a partner institution, apprenticeship and traineeships in companies, volunteer work or group exchange options for young people. There are also mobility options for workers such as continuing education and training as well as teacher exchanges between partner institutions at all education levels covered in previous programme actions.
Strategic partnerships (KA2): The aim of this Key Action is to intensify cooperation through strategic partnerships between education institutions, local or regional authorities, Social partners or youth organisations will also receive support. Various time-tested types of strategic partnerships will once again be used in order to offer options that are suited to the needs of recipients at all education levels. Planned activities include class exchange projects, study seminars, cooperation initiatives relating to extracurricular activities as well as innovation transfer for education providers (particularly with regards to simplified recognition of skills and competences).
Support for policy reform (KA3): The aim of this Key Action is to lend support to decision makers at all levels as well as to various networks, pilot projects, continuing education and training and other studies. Priority will mostly be given to activities that are intended to improve the quality of data as well as the transparency of education and VET systems.
Bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU
After over 15 years of indirect participation, Switzerland signed a bilateral agreement that enabled it to participate fully in the EU’s “Lifelong Learning” and “Youth in Action” programmes between 2011 and 2013. Previously, Swiss participation was limited to individual projects that the Swiss Confederation had to pay directly out of its own pocket.
Between 2011 and 2013, Switzerland enjoyed full-fledged membership status in these two EU programmes. As a result, Swiss researchers were entitled to take part in all corresponding Actions on an equal footing with their EU counterparts. In addition, Swiss institutions were able to propose and coordinate projects. Switzerland also held seats in the corresponding steering committees, which enabled it to influence the strategic orientation of the “Lifelong Learning” and “Youth in Action” programmes. Switzerland’s contribution to the budget of these two programmes for the years 2011–2013 stood at EUR 44.7 million for the “Lifelong Learning” programme and EUR 5.4 million for the “Youth in Action” programme.
Participation in EU education programmes is one of the priorities of Switzerland’s international strategy for education, research and innovation. For over twenty years, it has been an important component of cooperation. It has enabled thousands of Swiss nationals to broaden their horizons by studying abroad and has allowed countless foreign nationals to pursue education and training in Switzerland. In 2013, over 7,000 young Swiss were able to benefit from mobility programmes in EU countries.
On 9 February 2014, Swiss voters adopted the popular initiative “Against Mass Immigration”. The EU responded by suspending the ongoing negotiations on Swiss participation in Erasmus+. Switzerland now has associated country status. In response to the EU’s actions, the Federal Council adopted a series of interim measures to cover the period running from 2014 to 2017. These interim measures are similar to the indirect participation conditions that Switzerland faced prior to 2011. The highest level of priority will be given to mobility as Swiss efforts to achieve full-fledged membership in “Erasmus+” continue. Swiss participation will therefore be subject to restrictions and will lack the full range of diversity of participation options that Switzerland would have with full-fledged membership in Erasmus+. However, this option enables Switzerland to maintain the best possible level of continuity under current circumstances. The funding set aside for this purpose will also cover the costs of foreign students wishing to study in Switzerland. The ‘National agency for the promotion of exchange and mobility’ (Movetia) is responsible for implementing these interim measures.
Detailed information about the various interim measures and conditions for participation in EU education, training and youth programmes can currently be found on the website of Movetia.