9 May is the day of the historic Schuman Declaration: On that day in 1950 the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman gave a speech in Paris in which he presented his vision of a new kind of political cooperation in Europe – cooperation that would make wars between European nations unimaginable. Robert Schuman's proposal is considered the cornerstone of today's European Union and 9 May has been celebrated annually as Europe Day ever since.
Europe offers enormous added value especially for education, culture, science and research. Since the 1960s the European educational policy has developed – slowly at first and faster and faster since the late 1990s – into a special field of European politics. The OeAD’s history, too, is closely linked to the European education area.
Europe at the OeAD
The implementation of the European idea at schools, vocational and adult education institutions as well as at higher education institutions and research institutions allows people to cross borders and to gain new experiences and knowledge. The programmes and initiatives managed by the OeAD contribute significantly to integrating and strengthening the European dimension at all national educational levels. Strengthening the awareness of being Europeans is part of the OeAD's self-image.
The programmes of the European Commission in particular promote the Europeanisation of national educational institutions and the comparability of educational systems and qualifications. The goal is not least the development and harmonisation of a European education area (Bologna Process). The EU's Erasmus programme plays a central part in this and opens up new horizons for people in many ways. What began as a student exchange programme now encompasses schools, higher education institutions, vocational and adult education as well as youth and sports.
More than a quarter of a million people from Austria have so far been seized by wanderlust to do an internship, study, teach, work, initiate a project or volunteer in another country. This is a considerable number when we consider that in 1992 – since then Austria has taken part in the Erasmus programme – 893 Austrian students went to study in other European countries.
The OeAD is also a partner in the EU initiative Euraxess, the Europe-wide network that supports the mobility and careers of researchers.
Europe is, of course, more than Erasmus & co: in addition to the EU programmes the OeAD is responsible for a broad range of possibilities in the European context. Since 1989 the OeAD has supported educational and scientific relations with the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. This includes the Central European University Network CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Program for University Studies), which enables study and research stays at member universities in the partner countries.
The OeAD in Europe
Educational Cooperation with Eastern and South-Eastern Europe also originated in the efforts towards European integration. The educational cooperation promotes exchange and cooperation between educational institutions in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and Austria and in this way supports sustainable educational reforms in the pre-university sector. The OeAD maintains a network of cooperation offices in Eastern and South-Eastern European partner countries, which are managed by Austrian educational coordinators.
Teaching abroad brings experience from abroad back to the Austrian education system. This is made possible by the teaching worldwide programme, by teaching German as a foreign language and by the lectureship programme.
Internationalisation – cooperation leads to success
All the programmes mentioned here send an important signal for cooperation in Europe and act as a stimulus for the Austrian educational policy. Stays abroad contribute to the development of personal skills, they strengthen the innovative capacity of institutions and entire education systems. The discussion with the other leads to more understanding for different positions and to an appreciation of diversity. International knowledge exchange and expertise strengthen Austria’s positioning in education, science and research. Internationalisation is therefore the best investment in the future. This is what we have stood for since 1961.
Author: Cathrine Seidelberger