9. In examining the Commission's Communication
at this early stage, the Committee first of all decided to focus
the enquiry on the renewal of the higher education part of the
Socrates education programme (known as Socrates-Erasmus).
10. The Committee's enquiry was made
up of two separate strands. One was to consider questions of principle
rather than questions of detail. This strand looked at Socrates-Erasmus
in terms of the aims and achievements of the programme, and the
hopes of key British interest groups for the new programme. The
second strand consisted of an examination of more detailed questions,
primarily related to the United Kingdom. This strand dealt with,
among other things, the imbalance of the flow of students into
and out of the United Kingdom.
11. The Committee's interest having
been roused by the question of the imbalance of flow, four general
questions immediately presented themselves as the starting point
for the Committee's enquiry:
(i) what is the purpose of the
Community higher education programme?
(ii) what has the Community programme
achieved so far?
(iii) what should it aim to achieve
in the future?
(iv) how should the new programme
differ from the old one?
12. As the enquiry progressed, it became
clear that there were three other questions which lay at the heart
of the matter:
(i) Is there general agreement
that the objectives of the new programme should be concentrated
on access, innovation and dissemination of good practice?
(ii) what action should be taken,
if any, with regard to the imbalance of students under the Community
education programme, whereby British universities host more students
than they send out?
(iii) should the Government seek
financial compensation from the Community given the high level
of demand from other European students to do part of their studies
in countries teaching in English?
13. The particular topic which the
Committee set out to investigate was student mobility under Socrates-Erasmus.
It is important to distinguish this organised mobility
from what is termed the "free mover" student
mobility outside Socrates-Erasmus, in which students may
enrol abroad for a whole course or part of a course. The financial
and institutional implications are very different; but statistically
it is not always easy to distinguish Erasmus students from
other EU students. Some of the evidence we received related to
the totality of student mobility within Europe, and we make use
of this in the Report. We have tried to be clear in all cases
whether information relates to Erasmus mobility or to all
European mobility: nevertheless, it is important to draw attention
at the start to the need to distinguish between these two forms
14. Part 2 of this Report gives a short
summary of the Commission's communication, Towards a Europe
of Knowledge. Part 3 summarises the evidence which the Committee
received, and is structured thus:
(i) first, to set out the characteristics
of the Community higher education programme as it is at present;
(ii) secondly, to consider the
question of the imbalance of the flow of students in and out of
the United Kingdom; and
(iii) thirdly, to consider the
hopes of key United Kingdom players in relation to the new programme.
Part 4 of the Report reiterates the Committee's Conclusions
and Recommendations, which are also to be found in bold type as
they occur throughout Part 3.
15. This Report is based on an enquiry
undertaken by Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home
Affairs). A list of the Members of the Sub-Committee is given
in Appendix 1. A list of those from whom the Committee took
evidence is given in Appendix 2. The Commission's Communication,
Towards a Europe of Knowledge, is printed in Appendix 3.