The European Higher Education Area is driven by many multi-national actors. Though education remains a policy competency of European Union members states, political actors across Europe help to shape, coordinate, and unify higher education under one European umbrella.

The role of European Stakeholder Organisations
There are a variety of stakeholder organisations at both the national and European level in Europe that are active in advancing and shaping the European higher education and research area. These can be representatives of European universities (EUA), representatives of professional schools (ERASHE), student representative organisations (ESU), quality assurance representative organisations (ENQA), as well as international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the UN (UNESCO-CEPES) and Education International. Industry organisations, university networks, research networks, and a variety of other actors are also important to creating a more integrated, dynamic European space for higher education. See European Associations.

The role of the European Union

Formally, the EU does not have the authority to make European legislation on higher education (‘directives') that all member states must apply. However, higher education in Europe is extremely important to the progress of the economic area and the common market. Thus the European Union, via a multitude of funding programmes that support education and training as well as EU higher education collaboration with global partners, has been an important actor in advancing the European higher education and research area. See Gateway to Europe for general information about the European Union

Useful Links:

European Commission- Directorate General Education and Culture
This is the European Commission's official directorate for European programmes and policy in higher education. All EU Education and Training and Multilingualism actions are included.

European Commission Directorate General for Research
This site is designed to help you find out about European Research as supported by the EU. You can read about the latest political decisions, or the latest advances in research; there is even a set of online leaflets about European Research in Action, written for the non-specialist and available in 11 or more languages.
Although the site has over 25 000 pages you can easily find the parts that interest you most by using the Who are you? section (in the column on the left) where you will find pages of links that we believe you would like to visit depending on who you are. EU funding opportunities in the field of research are also featured.

European Commission, Directorate General for External Relations
DG Relex is the external relations arm of the European Union that aims to enable the EU to assert its identity on the international scene. To this end DG RELEX works closely with other Directorates-General, notably EuropeAid (the EU Development agency) , DGs Development and Trade and ECHO. DG RELEX is responsible for the Commission's relations with international organisations, such as the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe, as well as the Commission's participation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the administration of more than 120 Commission delegations in third countries.
The DG Relex web site gives access to all information on EU-bilateral relations: Regional strategy papers, trade, development, EU enlargement, and news updates.

EU Relations with Asia



European Parliament Committee on Education
The EU parliament, made up of directly elected representatives from EU member states, has sub- formations of thematic committees. This site contains information on the Education and culture sub-committee and links to relevant political meetings and decisions.

UNESCO-CEPES (the European Centre for Higher Education/Centre Européen pour l'Enseignement Supérieur) was established in September 1972 with a view to promoting co-operation in higher education among Member States of the Europe Region (the countries of Europe, North America, and Israel). The activities of UNESCO-CEPES are focused foremost on higher education in Central and Eastern Europe.

OECD education
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development directorate for Education works to help countries promote learning opportunities for all. This site provides information and studies on higher education and adult learning, education the economy and society, and research and knowledge management.

Council of Europe - Higher education
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals. It represents 47 member countries and is an active contributor to the Bologna Process, as well as to the general educational and cultural advancement of European societies.