The Council adopted conclusions on a renewed agenda for higher education. The overall aim is to modernize higher education so that it keeps pace with the rapidly evolving environment.
It also adopted conclusions on school development and excellent teaching. The conclusions highlight the importance of ensuring high-quality and inclusive education for all, empowering teachers and school leaders, and shifting towards more effective, equitable and efficient governance.
The Council adopted a recommendation for tracking graduates as a way of encouraging and supporting member states in their efforts to improve the quality and availability of information on what graduates do after leaving higher education or vocational education and training.
The conclusions and recommendation follow the Commission communications of 30 May 2017 on school development and excellent teaching, and on a renewed EU agenda for higher education.
On 17 November 2017, the European Commission has set out its vision for how we can create a European Education Area by 2025. The Communication is intended as a contribution at the meeting of 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, where European leaders met to discuss the future role of education and culture in strengthening a shared European identity. This informal meeting of heads of state and government took place in light of the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme and in the framework of the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth.
The Commission believes that it is in the shared interest of all Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for job creation, economic growth and social fairness as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity.
The primary responsibility for education and culture policies lies with the Member States, at national, regional and local levels. However, the European Union has played an important complementary role over the years. This is particularly true when it comes to cross-border activities. Over the past decade, the European Union has also developed a series of ‘soft policy’ tools to help Member States in the design of national education policies. Since 2000, Member States have been cooperating under the ‘Framework for European cooperation in education and training’ (ET 2020) which set common objectives and benchmarks. The Commission believes it is now time to build on these foundations and greatly step up our ambition.
With its international comparison and country analysis, the Education and Training Monitor fuels the debate on priority themes for education and training and informs national education reform debates.
Endorsed by government representatives from all EU member states, the Monitor charts EU and the country progress using six targets:
to reduce the early leavers from education and training below 10%
to reach 40% tertiary educational attainment among 30 to 34-year-olds
to reach the 95% participation in early childhood education and care
to reduce the underachievement in reading, maths and science below 15%
to reach the employment rate of recent graduates of 82%
to reach 15% adult participation in learning
In the field of education and training, the Presidency focuses on the implementation of the New Skills Agenda, the modernization of Higher Education, and the initiative of graduates’ tracking.
This year's edition of the Commission's Education and Training Monitor shows progress towards important EU targets, but also highlights that Member States need to make their education systems more relevant and inclusive, in particular regarding the integration of newly arrived refugees and migrants. Member States face a dual task of ensuring adequate financial investment and offering high quality education to young people from all backgrounds – including refugees and migrants.
In the field of Education and Training, the Maltese Presidency will focu on the relevance of achieving a High Quality Education for All through inclusion in diversity. The quality and relevance of Education and Training should be linked to the requirements of the labour market and directed towards the provision of relevant skills, aptitudes and lifelong values required to become active citizens.
The Maltese Presidency will also strive to make progress on the New Skills Agenda for Europe, the proposal for a Council Recommendation on the European Qualifications Framework, and the proposal for a Decision on Europass.