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13.4.2.  EU education and training programmes

    Twenty-six years after the flagship programme for university education, Erasmus, was launched in 1987, the enlarged ''Erasmus+'' programme covers all education, training, youth and sport sub-programmes for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020 [Regulation 1288/2013]. Its budget of €14.8 billion represents a 40% increase compared to its predecessor the ''Lifelong learning programme'' (2007-2013). Erasmus+ encourages 'learning mobility' i.e. moving physically to a country other than the country of residence, in order to undertake study, training or non-formal or informal learning. This mobility may take the form of traineeships, apprenticeships, youth exchanges, volunteering, teaching or participation in a professional development activity, and may include preparatory activities, such as training in the host language, as well as sending, hosting and follow-up activities. Erasmus+ encourages also 'cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices', i.e. transnational and international cooperation projects involving organisations active in the fields of education, training and/or youth. The programme supports as well 'policy reform', i.e. any type of activity aimed at supporting and facilitating the modernisation of education and training systems, as well as support for the development of European youth policy.

    The Programme aspires to contribute to the achievement of: (a) the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, including the headline education target [see section 7.3]; (b) the objectives of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ('ET 2020'); (c) the sustainable development of partner countries in the field of higher education; (d) the overall objectives of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); (e) the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport; and (f) the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.

    Erasmus+ encourages 'partnership agreements ' i.e. agreements between a group of institutions and/or organisations in different Programme countries to carry out joint European activities in the fields of education, training, youth and sport or establishing a formal or informal network in a relevant field such as joint learning projects for pupils and their teachers in the form of class exchanges and individual long-term mobility, intensive programmes in higher education and cooperation between regional and local authorities to foster inter-regional, including cross-border, cooperation.

    Any public or private body active in the fields of education, training, youth and grassroots sport may apply for funding within the Programme. When implementing the Programme, inter alia as regards the selection of participants and the award of scholarships, the Commission and the Member States should ensure that particular efforts are made to promote social inclusion and the participation of people with special needs or with fewer opportunities.

    To support mobility, equity and study excellence, the Erasmus+ programme has established a Student Loan Guarantee Facility to enable students, regardless of their social background, to take their Master's degree in another country to which participation in the Programme is open. The Student Loan Guarantee Facility is available to financial institutions which agree to offer loans for Master's studies in other Programme countries on favourable terms for students. Guarantees issued through the Facility cover new eligible student loans up to a maximum of EUR 12 000 for a one-year programme and up to EUR 18 000 for a programme lasting up to two years, or their equivalent in local currency. This new facility for learning mobility does not replace or impede the pre-existing grant or loan systems supporting student mobility.

    The action programme Erasmus+ is divided up into seven sub-programmes, which are all structured in the same way and address the teaching and learning needs of all participants as well as of the institutions and organisations providing or facilitating education and training in each respective sector. All the actions incorporate mobility, language and new technology.

    The Comenius sub-programme covers education and training at all levels, in a lifelong learning perspective, including school education. 'Lifelong learning' includes all general education, vocational education and training, non-formal learning and informal learning undertaken throughout life, resulting in an improvement in knowledge, skills and competences or participation in society. The two specific objectives of Comenius are to: develop understanding among young people and educational staff of the diversity of European cultures and its value; help young people acquire the basic life-skills and competences necessary for their personal development, for future employment and for active European citizenship.

    The Erasmus sub-programme addresses all types of higher education within the Programme countries, whatever the length of the course or qualification may be and including doctoral studies. The two specific objectives of Erasmus are to: support the achievement of a European Area of Higher Education; and reinforce the contribution of higher education and advanced vocational education to the process of innovation.

    The Erasmus Mundus sub-programme has an international dimension, by covering all types of higher education activities between the Programme countries and partner countries. It aims at the enhancement of quality in European higher education, at the promotion of intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries and at increasing the attractiveness of the Union as a study destination.

    The Leonardo da Vinci sub-programme addresses vocational education and training. Its specific objectives are to: support participants in training in the acquisition and the use of knowledge, skills and qualifications to facilitate personal development, employability and participation in the European labour market; support improvements in quality and innovation; and enhance the attractiveness of vocational education and training and mobility.

    The Grundtvig sub-programme addresses all forms of adult learning. It aims to: respond to the educational challenge of an ageing population in Europe; and help provide adults with pathways to improving their knowledge and competences.

    The ''Youth in Action'' sub-programme is associated with non-formal and informal learning in the field of youth. 'Non-formal learning' means learning which takes place through planned activities (in terms of learning objectives and learning time) where some form of learning support is present (e.g. a student-teacher relationship), but which is not part of the formal education and training system. 'Informal learning' means learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure which is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. The specific objectives of the Youth programme are: (a) to improve the level of key competences and skills of young people, including those with fewer opportunities, as well as to promote participation in democratic life in Europe and the labour market; (b) to foster quality improvements in youth work; (c) to complement policy reforms at local, regional and national level; and (d) to enhance the international dimension of youth activities and the role of youth workers and organisations.

    The Sport sub-programme focuses in particular on grassroots sport and pursues the following specific objectives: (a) to tackle cross-border threats to the integrity of sport, such as doping, match-fixing and violence, as well as all kinds of intolerance and discrimination; (b) to promote and support good governance in sport and dual careers of athletes; and (c) to promote voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion, equal opportunities and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity.

    Jean Monnet activities, backed by the programme Erasmus+, aim to: (a) promote teaching and research on European integration worldwide among specialist academics, learners and citizens, in particular through the creation of Jean Monnet Chairs and other academic activities, as well as by providing aid for other knowledge-building activities at higher education institutions; (b) support the activities of academic institutions or associations active in the field of European integration studies and support a Jean Monnet label for excellence and (c) support the following institutions pursuing an aim of European interest: the College of Europe (Bruges and Natolin campuses), the European University Institute in Florence, the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) in Maastricht, the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Trier, the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (Odense), and the International Centre for European Training (CIFE) in Nice.

    The actions of the European Youth Forum, the National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC), the Eurydice, Euroguidance and Eurodesk networks, the eTwinning National Support Services, the National Europass Centres [see section 13.4.1], and the National Information Offices in the neighbourhood countries are essential in order to achieve the objectives of the Erasmus+ Programme, in particular by providing the Commission with regular, updated information regarding their various fields of activity and through the dissemination of the Programme results in the Union and in the partner countries.

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