Cooperation in higher education between Europe
and other world regions: Latin America
Brussels, 13 October 2006
Europe is increasingly looking beyond its borders. Cooperation in higher education within Europe has been a stunning success story, but there are still shortcomings when it comes to cooperation with other world regions, and to the number of non-European students studying at Europe’s universities. Following the success of ACA’s seminar on cooperation with Asia, this seminar was devoted to Europe’s relationship with a different world region: Latin America.
Latin America is at the same time Europe’s poor cousin and best friend. Proximity in culture, society and education is being evoked at every meeting between leaders of the two regions. Spain and Portugal see themselves as Europe’s gates to Latin America. Italy, France or Germany likewise build on their traditional links with the region when it comes to cooperation in higher education.
Despite the lip service praising Europe and Latin America as “natural partners”, reality is different. First, the US is and remains the preferred destination of Latin American students and researchers. Second, the European Union has in the recent past rather looked eastwards, and focused on Asia’s emerging knowledge economies as well as neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. While European programmes like Alban or Alfa have enabled a number of worthwhile projects, their contribution has remained marginal, and their future is unsure.
What is happening in Latin America’s higher education systems and economies? How could the European Union, its member states and universities best cooperate with their counterparts in Latin America? What are possible models and tools to foster this cooperation? What is being done, and what are the perspectives for the future? How does bilateral cooperation fit in the European context? What works for European institutions, from strategic cooperation and targeted recruitment to the setting up of specific regional programmes? These and other questions were addressed at this seminar by European, national and institutional level experts.