The policy of the European Union (EU) is to provide support to Higher Education in ACP partner countries in the context of a balanced approach to investment across the education sector as a whole. The ACP Higher Education sub-sector needs to respond to a number of key development issues.
First, the need to stimulate potential for economic growth by increasing the supply of high level qualified human resources available to ACP economies.
Second, the need to improve the quality of locally provided Higher Education in the ACP states.
Third, the importance of building local capacity by promoting both co-operation between ACP tertiary education institutions, and between ACP and European universities, and finally, the importance of promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding among European and ACP countries.
The ACP states reaffirmed their commitment to further reinforce their Higher Education Systems during the 1st and 2nd Meeting of ACP Ministers of Education (5 May 2006 and 22 October 2008, at ACP House Brussels). In the Brussels Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development in ACP States, the Brussels Framework for Action and the Brussels Resolution on the Role of Education in the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, ACP Education Ministers have, inter alia, committed themselves to promoting the mobility of students and teachers and to developing programmes to exchange experiences and know-how in the field of education, in the ACP region and in the regions of key development partners.
The importance that Higher Education can play in the ACP development agenda is also confirmed in the Intra-ACP Strategy Paper and Multiannual Indicative Programme (for the period 2008-2013), jointly agreed between the European Commission (EC) and the ACP Group of States.
The latest communication on EU Development policy adopted by the College on the 12th October 2011 "Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change" underlines the necessity to enhance the EU support for quality education to give young people the knowledge and skills to be active members of an evolving society.
The “Agenda for Change” communication acknowledges the relevance of the energy and agriculture sectors as drivers of poverty eradication:
In agriculture, the EU should support sustainable practices, including the safeguarding of ecosystem services, giving priority to locally-developed practices and focusing on smallholder agriculture and rural livelihoods, formation of producer groups, the supply and marketing chain, and government efforts to facilitate responsible private investment. The EU will continue working on strengthening nutritional standards, food security governance and reducing food price volatility at international level.
In energy, the EU should offer technology and expertise as well as development funding, and should focus on three main challenges: price volatility and energy security; climate change, including access to low carbon technologies; and access to secure, affordable, clean and sustainable energy services.
The current EDULINK II programme (funded under the 10th EDF as well as a contribution from the EU Budget Development Co-operation Instrument - Relations with South Africa) is designed to continue fostering co-operation in the field of Higher Education between the countries of the ACP States and the European Union. EDULINK II will improve the effectiveness, management, visibility and hence the impact of ACP-EU co-operation in the field of higher education. The Programme aims at promoting innovation in HEIs in the ACP States and, hence, at ensuring their competitiveness in the global environment.
Objectives and expected results
The global objectives of the EDULINK II Programme are:
- To foster capacity building and regional integration in the field of higher education through institutional networking; and
- To support higher education of quality, that is efficient and relevant to the needs of the labour market and consistent with the ACP regions’ and member countries’ socio-economic development priorities.
The specific objective of the EDULINK II Programme is to strengthen the capacity of ACP HEIs at two levels:
The expected results of implementing the EDULINK II Programme are:
- Enhanced contribution to national and regional policies and development plans for cooperation in higher education;
- Increased inter-institutional networking between HEIs in the ACP and with EU HEIs, including institutions offering teacher training, degrees and diplomas contributing to regional solutions to teacher shortages;
- Improved management and financial administration of ACP HEIs;
- Upgraded qualifications of academic staff of ACP HEIs;
- Improved institutional frameworks to pursue academic programmes and academic excellence in ACP HEIs.
- Increased mobility of postgraduate students and teaching staff through the provision of joint programmes;
- Delivered study programmes in high level skills required by the national and regional labour markets;
- Relevant national or regional quality assurance standards of study programmes are met.