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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

EU-AFRICA: University ties to be deepened

New plans for broadening the two-way street between African and European universities were unveiled at a conference in Brussels last week, where 150 delegates from both continents debated closer ties in higher education. The conference focused on a newly published White Paper on bridging arrangements between institutions and greater cooperation between scholars in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its conclusions follow studies and discussions staged through the European Union-funded Fostering Trust and Exchange between Europe and Africa 2008-2010, which the organisers claim was the first such project of its kind. The leading partners were the Association of African Universities and the European Universities Association. Belgium, currently holding the six-month rotating EU presidency, has organised a busy agenda for EU-African relations between now and the end of the year, of which the conference is a part. According to the university conference organiser, Michael Hörig, the EUA's programme director, delegates were emphatic about the need for greater African participation in Erasmus Mundi programmes. Everyone recognises that the exchanges are lop-sided. Some 18% of the EU's university population is from Africa with the majority of them going to the UK, Germany and France, in that order.