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Education, Youth And Culture Council

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the outcome was of the Education, Youth and Culture Council held on 5–6 May 2003; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [112543]

I attended the Education session of this Council.After discussion, the Council adopted conclusions on benchmarking. Benchmarking will feature in the 2004 spring report to Heads of State and Government on the contribution of education to the Lisbon objectives.Ministers adopted a common position on the planned higher education programme Erasmus Mundus, including the budget at€180 million. The programme aims to provide higher education institutions with scholarships, offering further opportunities to attract overseas students, and helping them to forge useful and stronger partnerships between themselves, and with those in third countries.The Council adopted a common position on the e-Learning programme, including the budget at €33 million. This programme aims to promote schools internet twinning, virtual campuses and digital literacy. Both these programmes will now go to the European Parliament for second reading.Ministers discussed the future role of European universities, including the importance of excellence in research, encouraging private investment, and of maintaining the competitive edge of European higher education in the world market.The Council adopted the Resolution on Equal Opportunities for Learners with Disabilities without debate.The Deputy UK Representative represented the UK at the Youth session. After debate on the objectives proposed in the Commission's Communication on the Youth Open Method of Co-ordination, Ministers agreed to aim to adopt a set of common objectives at the November Youth Council. The Declaration on Social Value of Sport for Young People was adopted without debate.A copy of the Council minutes will be placed in the Library in due course.