European Law Monitor

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the Commission launches new scholarship scheme outside the EU

The European Commission is launching a new "Erasmus Mundus External Co-operation Window" open to the EU’s neighbours[1], Russia, Central Asia[2] and Iran, Iraq and Yemen. The first call for proposals will take place before the end of 2006 and will allow for a total of 1300 scholarships, of which 110 will be dedicated to Iran, Iraq and Yemen. These scholarships will facilitate the mobility of undergraduate, master, doctorate and post-doctoral students between these countries and the EU, as well as exchanges of academic staff for the purposes of teaching, training and research.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said “Scholarships like these contribute to the development of partner countries and are an excellent way of fostering deeper understanding between our people. Against the backdrop of Iran’s strained relations with the international community, it remains as important as ever for the EU to continue encouraging and supporting academic exchanges with that country.”

Starting in the academic year 2007-8, the duration of these scholarships may vary from 3 months to 3 years. The scheme relies on mixed consortia of EU and third country universities, promoting durable institutional links.

Ján Figel’, European Commissioner in charge of Education & Culture said : “As the EU is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its flagship programme, Erasmus, I welcome the ever-growing expansion of Erasmus Mundus which now extends to many countries around the world our policies of academic exchanges and intercultural dialogue”.

With the new “External Co-operation Window" initiative, the European Union confirms its commitment to the importance of higher education for economic and social development. Higher education plays a crucial role in producing high quality workforce, in disseminating scientific discovery and advanced knowledge. In the context of today’s global economy and an increasingly knowledge-based society, promoting international co-operation and mobility between higher education institutions in the European Union and other countries is a win-win situation: it contributes to the mutual enrichment of nations and to a better understanding among peoples.

The new external co-operation window builds on the general EU Erasmus Mundus programme: Erasmus Mundus promotes Europe as a centre of excellence in higher education and gives grants to third-country students and scholars to obtain a masters degree in Europe. It also supports co-operation between European and non-European universities and encourages the mobility of European students and scholars towards universities in third countries. Since 2004, under Erasmus Mundus, 26 citizens from Iran and Yemen have already received a grant.