Erasmus policy statement
Created in 1949, the College of Europe (hereafter “College”) is the first institute of postgraduate studies specializing in European affairs. As envisaged by its founders, who include leading intellectuals and politicians such as Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Alcide de Gasperi, and Paul-Henri Spaak, the College’s mission focuses on postgraduate education and scientific research. These core activities are supported through the organisation of conferences, symposia, training seminars and other work of a European interest and thereby strengthening European integration and cooperation.
In order to fulfill its mission, the College functions as a hub for studying and shaping the EU by bringing together academics, practitioners, and graduate students, and by engaging them in a mutually enriching process of transnational intellectual exchange. The College prepares graduates of its five fully accredited advanced “Masters after the Masters” programmes to play an important part in contemporary Europeanized, and internationalized polities, societies, and economies, and to assume positions of responsibility in shaping these and the Europeanization process itself.
International exchange is embedded in the College’s mission and structure. The student body represents over thirty nationalities while the College recruits professors from across Europe with most of the faculty being visiting professors. Its two strategically located campuses in Bruges and Natolin uphold English and French as their working languages.
Many of its graduates occupy positions of leadership and contribute to the Europeanisation process through their work in European institutions, national government administration, academic institutions, and in the private sector.
Students at the College not only study together, but also live together on-campus in student residences. This socio-cultural experience remains one of the major added values of studying at the College as it fosters a unique intercultural and multilingual learning community.
The College is primarily an institute of higher education which exposes students, to a variety of visions about what European cooperation and integration is aimed at, as well as how it should be represented. Research conducted by the academic staff similarly aims to study a variety of issues linked to European integration. Furthermore, the Development Office underpins the College’s role as a centre of excellence in European affairs, with its projects in the field of academic co-operation, research and professional training enjoying a European and worldwide reach.
The College has changed over the years, while unceasingly focusing on the European integration process, and continues to anticipate and adapt to changing societal and geo-political circumstances. The widening and deepening of the integration process is reflected in the College’s increased number of students, professors and study programmes. Accordingly, already in the early 1990s, the College anticipated the EU’s enlargement and created the European Interdisciplinary Studies programme. This culminated in the establishment of the Natolin campus in Poland, being devoted to increasing students’ knowledge and awareness of the European integration process with a particular attention to the European Union’s Neighbourhood as well as European History and Civilisation.
In September 2017, the College launched a Joint Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs together with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in order to face complex challenges which require common solutions. Such closer cooperation will bring benefits to both academic institutions and their broader constituencies, as complementary organisations with an interest in forging transatlantic leaders. Research projects and staff exchanges, joint academic events, as well as executive education may follow.
The College furthermore collaborates with the European University Institute, and has also engaged in partnerships with various European organisations to apply for grants under numerous European funding programmes. Particularly, the Development Office in Natolin maintains a specific focus on executive education activities and supporting programmes with regard to policy- and decision-makers from Eastern Partnership, Southern Neighbourhood, and Western Balkan countries.
On a more general level, the College’s unique formula makes it an ideal platform for transnational intellectual exchange for academics and graduates from a variety of institutional backgrounds. In particular, a great number of faculty members are full-time academics at other universities across Europe and beyond, and the students have similarly all obtained their initial qualifications at other universities. This means that the College of Europe strives to embody the spirit and objectives of the Erasmus programme par excellence.
Taking into account the ever-increasing need for inter-institutional cooperation that embraces universities and research institutes as well as other public or private organizations whose interests and focus coincide with those of the College of Europe Natolin, the forward-looking development of such links and synergies is of great importance to us.
Most of the professors teaching at the College of Europe Natolin form a multicultural “flying faculty” (each year around 80 professors, experts and civil servants) and represent a diversity of teaching approaches, contributing to the academic programme. This facilitates co-operation with a great number of academic institutions. The Academic Chairs also contribute to the forging of new academic links through seminars, conferences organised in Warsaw, to which academics from Polish institutions are always invited.
While preparing the study trips to European neighbourhood countries and EU institutions, numerous contacts are established with academic and research establishments in these countries. The objective is to organise high quality programmes and consolidate relations between respective academic institutions and the College of Europe Natolin. In addition, the study trips along with research activities, teaching engagements, and educational events also serve as a tool to enhance the development of links with non-academic (public or private) institutions that can contribute to the enrichment of the Natolin’s educational offer and to the attainment of our goals, objectives and results.
On 1 October 2014, the College of Europe signed a framework agreement with the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. For the Chair of European Civilization in Natolin this means 1) the opportunity for one history scholar annually to hold a paid internship at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence, and 2) the organization of historically themed workshops for Natolin students led by Max Weber Fellows from the EUI. The first workshop took place in 2015. One internship in the Historical Archives of the EU and two such workshops at the Natolin campus are envisaged for 2017.
On 26 June 2016, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the College of Europe signed a framework agreement on the establishment of a new joint degree programme ‘Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs’ (MATA) as a way of joining forces to offer a select group of graduate students the exciting opportunity to enjoy their respective academic offerings and expertise by spending one year on both sides of the Atlantic. The prospective MATA students will also carry out a high-level internship as part of the curriculum. For both schools the MATA, launched in the academic year 2017-18, is the first joint degree programme and a part of the development of a strategic partnership.
Located in the capital of one of the EU’s newer member states and in proximity to the Easternmost borders of the EU, the College of Europe Natolin has also become a “natural home” for studying the EU’s relations with its neighbours and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Recognized for success and effectiveness of its activities, since 2007 the College of Europe Natolin has been awarded ENP-related EU projects. This helped to develop a profile in research and teaching on the ENP and EU-neighbourhood issues. In order to reflect the growing importance of the European neighbourhood, the campus introduced a strong focus on the range of EU proximity strategies and policies into its activities consolidating thereby its expertise and analysis of the multifaceted complexities of the ENP and its southern and eastern dimensions.
As part of the EIS programme, students take part in intensive study trips to the neighbouring countries as well as to the European institutions. This provides them with a first-hand experience of political, economic and social issues pertinent to the neighbouring states. In this regard, the analysis of the implementation process of EU policies and the specific effects the latter may have in the neighbourhood, remains crucial. In all of these endeavors the College of Europe Natolin draws from the strong links that it enjoys with academic partners in neighbouring countries. This remains of particular importance when it comes to the organization of study trips, academic exchanges, and conferences.
By supporting the mobility of our staff and inviting professionals and academics from institutions from Program and Partner countries, we wish to promote the idea of continued higher education where students would see the value of investing their time and efforts in further education as Europe and especially Partner countries need professionals whose knowledge and expertise is at a level that would allow them to introduce real changes in the areas they want to engage in. This is connected with the quality of education, as it is difficult to reach the necessary level of knowledge and expertise through a short cycle or first cycle education. By showing the value of education in the 2nd and 3rd cycle we wish to continue to make our graduates ready to assume positions of responsibility in shaping the future of Europe and its Neighbourhood.
Supporting our students to pursue internships in opinion forming institutions and organizations, we wish to give them the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge they acquired in the College of Europe Natolin and in previous stages of education. The reality is often that those institutions do not offer paid internships, which makes it impossible for our students to start their professional careers in the places where they could transfer their knowledge to the market most effectively.
At the same time, we wish to invite students and graduates from other HEI to come to the College of Europe Natolin for traineeships to raise their sensitivity in issues dealing with the Neighbourhood and to see that the need for integration goes much further beyond the Program countries. The possibility to meet many students from Partner countries and our staff whose motivation and wish for engaging in the European project is very strong – can be a valuable source of inspiration. The ability to support the students in the difficult transition from the academic environment to the job market and making it possible for them to put their knowledge to practice is a challenging but worthwhile task. One way is to show the students the potential career paths that can be a natural continuation of their education, where they could engage with passion and be effective in what they do. The mobility for traineeships included in the Erasmus+ Programme would be of great support in this and it would allow many of our students to enter the job market in their area of expertise. From the perspective of our strong links with the Partner countries it would be very valuable if the programme for traineeships could, in the future, be extended to these countries too.
We are already in the process of building a Professional Network of institutions and organisations that match the area of expertise and interest of our students. The mobility options included in the Erasmus+ Programme would support us in building closer links with these institutions by inviting professionals and experts from different fields and at the same time being able to send our students for traineeships and get a head start on their professional careers.
A strategic approach to choosing the institutions we want to cooperate with and promote to our students and graduates would serve the goal of making the investment of the Programme very precisely targeted by matching the students’ competences with the target institutions’ core values and areas of expertise.
Furthermore, mobility and project activities will contribute to our strategic focus areas concerning students and staff in relation to language skills, professional knowledge and intercultural competences.