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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 11 November 2013

Higher Education: EU and Korea agree new era of cooperation

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Namsoo Seo, Minister of Education of the Republic of Korea, today signed an agreement to strengthen higher education partnerships between the European Union and Korea. The agreement envisages more exchanges among university students and staff, new efforts to promote mutual recognition of qualifications and study periods, and a policy dialogue on issues of common interest in the field of education and training.

"Europe has some of the best universities in the world but none can afford to rest on their laurels. They need to adapt and think international to ensure they deliver high-quality education and the skills our young people need for the future. Korean universities are in a similar situation and we can learn a lot from each other," said Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

Korea has made impressive economic progress since the 1960s, largely thanks to its investment in education, especially at university level. Higher education is also at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy to increase competitiveness, growth and jobs.

Today's agreement will promote exchanges between the EU and Korea on policies and best practices, as well as increased support for partnerships between universities and other education organisations. It will help both to prioritise action to support the reform, modernisation and internationalisation of higher education, including practical measures to remove barriers to student and staff mobility.

Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training and youth which will be launched in January 2014, will provide increased opportunities for cooperation and mobility between the EU and Korea. In addition to around 2 million student exchanges within Europe, Erasmus+ will enable 135 000 students and staff to move between Europe and the rest of the world. This means, for instance, that Korean students and staff will be able to benefit from an Erasmus+ experience in Europe and European students and staff can apply for a grant to spend part of their studies or training in Korea.

Erasmus+ will also support the modernisation of higher education institutions and systems and staff development in the EU and Korea.

Doctoral fellowships will be financed by the new Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions, part of the new Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation.


The EU's 4 000 higher education institutions currently host 45% of the 4 million students who study outside their home countries each year. They are attracted by world-class curricula, teaching excellence and cultural diversity.

To maintain and develop the quality of its higher education, the Commission is committed to strengthening academic partnerships and increasing innovative joint degree programmes and mobility opportunities between European universities and their partners worldwide.

Korea has an excellent reputation for higher education and innovation, and has the third highest number of internationally mobile students in the world – around 240 000 are currently studying abroad. Only China and India have more mobile students. Today's agreement reflects the scope to increase student and staff exchange, in both directions

The international higher education landscape is changing dramatically in shape and size. Europe faces increasing competition from countries such as China and India. Overall, the number of higher education students in the world is expected to quadruple, from around 100 million in 2000 to 400 million in 2030.

For more information

Full text of the joint declaration of the EU and Korea in education and training

Facts & Figures: European higher education in the world

European Commission: Education and training

Europe 2020

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

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