Globalisation and technological development are radically changing the landscape of higher education. Over the next twenty years the demand for higher education is expected to grow exponentially, from the current 99 million students worldwide to 414 million1 by 2030, with China showing by far the highest increase in recent years followed by Brazil and India. The thirst for knowledge and social mobility in emerging economies will place higher education within the reach of hundreds of millions of citizens around the world.

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Technology and the expectations of students are also changing. Students increasingly expect to choose what they learn, how they learn and when they learn, according to their individual needs and interests. They are ready to do it in their country of origin, abroad, via courses offered online or
via blended forms of learning combining all of these possibilities.

Education, and in particular higher education, is at the heart of the Europe 2020 Strategy and of Europe’s ambition to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy: it plays a crucial role in individual and societal advancement; and, with its impact on innovation and research, it provides
the highly skilled human capital that knowledge-based economies need to generate growth and prosperity. Building on the recent initiatives on Modernising Europe’s Higher Education Systems2 and Rethinking Education3 , and in response to the Council conclusions of 11 May 2010 on the
internationalisation of higher education4 , this Communication aims to contribute to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, by helping Member States and higher education institutions5 (HEIs) develop strategic partnerships that will allow Europe to tackle global challenges more effectively.
Cooperation at EU level and in a wider European framework has already facilitated the development of a high level of comparability, compatibility and exchange among the HEIs and systems of the European Higher Education Area. The Bologna Process, programmes such as Erasmus, Tempus,
Erasmus Mundus and Marie Curie, and transparency tools such as the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) have helped EU national higher education systems to achieve a significant degree of intra-European internationalisation. Yet internationalisation is a rising phenomenon with a global dimension: beyond the intra-EU cooperation and mobility issues covered in the Communication on Modernising Europe’s Higher Education Systems, this Communication analyses the mutually beneficial opportunities
offered by the broader international context, and promotes where appropriate the use of European processes and tools to a global audience.














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