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Tempus Programme - guide

08 May 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 25 November 2010

This set of frequently-asked questions explains the main achievements and objectives of Tempus - the EU flagship programme in the field of higher education cooperation with neighbouring countries.


1 – When did the last phase of Tempus programme start?

The first call for proposals under the new phase of the programme was launched in January 2008, with a deadline for the submission of project proposals set on 28 April. New projects under this call will start at the end of 2008. The second call for proposals under Tempus IV is likely to be organised towards the end of 2008, with projects starting in the 2009-10 academic year. Project duration is from 2 to 3 years.

2- Why did the Commission launch the fourth phase of the Tempus programme?

With Tempus, the Commission wants to create an area of cooperation in the field of higher education between the European Union and partner countries surrounding the EU. Tempus promotes the voluntary convergence with EU developments in higher education deriving from the Lisbon Strategy to create more jobs and growth, and the Bologna Process to establish a European Area of Higher Education. In a recent impact study, practically everyone interviewed considered the programme as one of the most, if not the most, important instruments for supporting the reform of higher education in their country. With such overwhelming positive responses, the Commission considers the continuation of the programme important and has therefore launched the fourth phase spanning the period 2007-2013. The European Commission also considers Tempus as an important element in its neighbourhood policy.

3 - What are the main objectives and instruments of the programme?

The overall objective of the Tempus programme is to establish an area of cooperation and modernisation in the field of higher education between the European Union and the partner countries in the surrounding area. Tempus will continue to promote the modernisation of higher education in the partner countries, enhance the quality and relevance of higher education, and build up the capacity of higher education institutions in the partner countries to assist them in opening up to society and the world.

Tempus enhances mutual understanding between people and cultures of the EU and the partner countries and promotes cooperation and networking within the regions covered by the programme. Tempus opens new international cooperation perspectives to European universities through the funding of projects involving cooperation among EU and Partner country institutions and academics.

4- Who can participate in the programme?

The main stakeholders of the Tempus programme are higher education authorities, higher education institutions from the EU and the partner countries (teachers, students, teaching and management staff), and all organisations that are directly related to higher education (higher education representative associations, networks, research institutions, enterprises, social partners, NGOs ...). Established in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the scheme now covers 28 countries in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

5- What are the concrete achievements of Tempus programme?

From 1990 till 2006 Tempus has funded 6500 projects, involving 2000 universities from the EU and its partner countries. Between 2000 and 2006, 788 Joint European Projects and 1492 individual mobility grants were funded. In addition, during the same period, Tempus supported 270 structural and complementary measures across all regions.

Tempus started as a framework for cooperation geared to the needs of new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. It undoubtedly helped to train a new generation of academics and managers needed for the transition period in these partner countries and introduce the reforms needed for the modernisation of their higher education systems. In the new EU’s neighbours, Tempus has supported the modernisation of thousands of curricula in a wide range of disciplines, has systematically introduced quality assurance measures, to ensure that these curricula are relevant and in line with the labour market needs. Tempus has also contributed to modernised university governance and create new partnerships with the labour market.

6 - How to participate?

All conditions and criteria to apply for Tempus funds are laid out in the text of the call for proposals which is available in English, German and French on the Commission's website.

Application forms can also be downloaded from this website. The first call for proposals under Tempus IV was closed on 28 April. The second call for proposals is likely to take place towards the end of 2008.

7 - What are the main findings from the programme’s evaluations?

A substantial number of education policy makers and advisors as well as university management staff are positive about the experience and the reforms promoted by Tempus projects. They confirmed that those reforms went beyond curriculum development and department and faculty level. As national reforms have started to pick up the pace, "Tempus universities" have been selected as model universities to develop and introduce modernisation processes at national level. Many university authorities stress that their Tempus experience resulted in an increase of the university’s status by being recognised as the best in its field or by being included in expert bodies of the Ministry of Higher Education.

8 - Is the new programme a simple extension of the current one?

The new phase of the programme is not a simple extension of Tempus III. While the new phase of the programme builds on the success of the previous phase and consolidates current programme activities, its scope was modified to take into consideration the conclusions from the various evaluation exercises.

9 - What are the main novelties of the programme?

The main novelties of Tempus IV is that the programme seeks projects which will have a greater impact of higher education reforms in the partner countries. This involves:

  • Priorities structured around the main components of the EU's higher education modernisation agenda (curricular reform, governance reform, higher education and society);
  • Increase of minimum partnership requirements (at least 5 higher education institutions);
  • Both project types (Joint Projects) and Structural Measures) are refocused to address partner country needs and to demonstrate a clear impact in higher education at institutional or system level;
  • The range of eligible organisations is enlarged to include more stakeholders in higher education;
  • Higher education institutions from the partner countries can act as applicants and grant holders for both Joint Projects and Structural Measures;
  • The requirements with regard to dissemination activities and sustainability have been reinforced;
  • Increase of individual grant size to € 500,000 - 1,500,00.

10 - What are the main activities and actions financed under Tempus IV?

Based on experience acquired during the previous phase, the fourth phase of the Tempus programme foresees three components. These components are conceived in an open way and are sufficiently flexible to be adapted to the needs and priorities of individual partner countries.

Component I: Joint Projects

Joint Projects are based on multilateral partnerships between higher education institutions in the EU and the partner countries. Joint Projects aim at transferring knowledge from EU universities to institutions in the partner countries and between partner country institutions. Joint Projects can pursue the following objectives: (a) to develop, promote and disseminate new curricula, teaching methods or materials; (b) to promote a quality assessment culture; (c) to modernise the management and governance of higher education institutions; (d) to strengthen the role of higher education institutions in society at large and to enhance their contribution to the development of lifelong learning; (e) to encourage links with the labour market, including the promotion of entrepreneurship and the creation of business start-ups and (f) to strengthen the links with research. Joint Projects can also include small scale and short duration mobility activities for students, academic staff and university administrators.

Component II: Structural Projects

Structural Projects seek to contribute to the development and reform of education institutions and systems in partner countries, as well as to enhance their quality and increase their convergence with EU developments. Structural Projects may provide support to networks of higher education institutions and/or directly to Ministries of Education for activities seeking dissemination and/or convergence with EU developments. The eligible activities may include studies and research on specific issues, organisation of national, regional and thematic conferences and seminars, provision of training, technical assistance and dissemination and information activities.

Component III: Accompanying Measures

Accompanying measures comprise meetings of project co-ordinators and other stakeholders, dissemination activities as well as support to the information and dissemination activities of National Tempus Offices in the partner countries. In addition, the EC can carry out other relevant activities like thematic conferences, studies on specific issues and activities aiming at the identification and dissemination of good practice.

11 - How is Tempus linked to wider political processes (e.g. the Bologna Process and Lisbon Strategy)?

The EU's overarching Lisbon Strategy gives a prominent role to universities in its quest to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.

Tempus promotes voluntary convergence with EU developments in the field of higher education deriving from the Lisbon agenda and the Bologna process, and in line with partner countries’ aspirations.

12 - How is the programme linked to other European Community programmes?

Tempus complements the European Union's existing regional cooperation programmes in higher education with third countries such as ALFA, Asia-Link or Edulink which continue to foster international co-operation in higher education between the European Union and its regional partners. The Tempus programme is in particular complementary to the EU Erasmus Mundus programme and its External Cooperation Window, which was launched in 2007. Whereas the External Co-operation Window under Erasmus Mundus focuses on individual mobility of students, professors and administrators, Tempus promotes institutional co-operation thereby concentrating on the reform and the modernisation of higher education systems in the partner countries.

13 - What will be the budget of the programme?

The fourth phase of the Tempus programme was launched in January with a total budget for the first call for proposals of €51 million, and individual projects receiving possible funding between €0.5 and €1.5 million.

Source: European Commission
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