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Conclusion of the mid-term evaluation of the Tempus IV programme - "A highly relevant programme that significantly contributes to higher education reform in the Partner Countries"

The recently published mid-term evaluation of the Tempus IV programme confirms that Tempus is reaching its objectives, by fostering cooperation, building capacities and contributing to reforms in countries surrounding the EU. The new features introduced under Tempus IV clearly enhance the impact of the programme and the new management set-up is seen as highly beneficial to the programme performance. The programme's bottom-up approach is considered as one of the key factors for its success.

The Tempus programme is an education cooperation programme promoting higher education modernisation and development in the neighbouring countries of the EU. The programme funds cooperation projects in the Partner Countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Southern Mediterranean region. Since 1990, the EU has made available 1.5 billion EUR, funding nearly 4000 cooperation projects. These projects last from two to three years and aim to introduce long term structural change, as well as to encourage people-to-people contacts and intercultural understanding.

"Tempus IV" refers to the programme period that started in 2007 and continues until the end of 2013. The mid-term evaluation of this programme was launched by the Services of the European Commission in 2011 and carried out by an external contractor between January and November 2012. The evaluation was based on document reviews, interviews, field visits to Partner Countries and an on-line survey addressed to different stakeholders.

The results of the evaluation show that Tempus IV is a highly relevant programme which significantly contributes to the modernisation of higher education in the Partner Countries surrounding the EU. It encourages voluntary convergence with EU developments and enhances cooperation between higher education institutions in the EU and Partner Countries. Furthermore, the evaluators consider the programme to be striking a productive balance between bottom-up and top-down initiative, and effectively supporting reforms at institutions as well as at system level.

Adequate implementation modalities and clear impact in the Partner Countries

According to the evaluation, the two Tempus project types, Joint Projects and Structural Measures, enhance the quality and relevance of higher education in the Partner Countries. The higher education systems benefit from the accumulated impact of a critical mass of projects, which contribute to increased capacities at individual, institutional and system level. Project results are considered sustainable in terms of individual capacity building, maintaining created networks and continuing developed study programmes, but the evaluation highlights the need for further support and funding for continued cooperation after the project lifetime.

Among the new features introduced under Tempus IV, the possibility for Partner Country institutions to act as grantholders is seen positively, in particular from the point of view of individual and institutional capacity building. On the other hand, the increased project scope introduced in Tempus IV, with higher grant amounts and larger consortia, does not seem decisive for the impact of the projects or the programme.

The regional approach emphasised in Tempus IV is not necessarily a priority in the countries involved in the programme but, with increased experience and good practice, the interest and demand for regional cooperation has been growing. The evaluation also highlights the impact of Tempus IV on increased cooperation at national level, between institutions within Partner Countries.

The emphasis put under Tempus IV on studies and seminars linked to higher education reform is considered by the evaluators as highly relevant and offering strong potential which should be further exploited. This includes also the activities of the "Higher Education Reform Experts", whose role is to promote the modernisation of higher education in the Partner Countries through national events and activities at the level of institutions.

As far as the management of the programme is concerned, the evaluation states that the transfer of the programme to the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in 2009 has been clearly beneficial for programme performance and management. The report also highlights the essential role of the National Tempus Offices (NTOs) in the Partner Countries and their strong professional and personal engagement. The NTOs' assistance to applicants and project participants, their promotion activities and their high involvement in project monitoring clearly contribute to improving the quality of applications and project implementation. Also the National Contact Points in the EU Member States are seen as important players when it comes to assisting applicants and project participants in the EU.

What can be improved?

The recommendations of the mid-term evaluation of Tempus IV seek to further capitalise on the programme's substantial results and impact. The current successful set-up should be maintained, but certain aspect of programme implementation could be further enhanced.

As far as projects are concerned, the evaluators recommend strengthening support to regional cooperation, for example through a regional mobility scheme and support for regional forums and conferences. A systematic analysis of benefits and good practices in regional cooperation could also improve this aspect of the programme.

Sustainability was identified as a key aspect which should be reinforced. At regional - and to a lesser extent at national level – the establishment of active institutional partnerships beyond the actual programme activities will require further support to achieve sustainable results. In order to reinforce sustainability, the evaluation suggests the introduction of mechanisms to follow-up and support project results during 2-3 years after the end of the project lifetime. Such mechanisms should not only involve higher education institutions, but also national authorities and other relevant stakeholders.

Finally, one of the key messages of the report is to reinforce the emphasis on studies and dissemination activities linked to higher education reform. The outreach of these activities and publications should be optimised and new forums could be created for the exchange of good practices.

The report on the mid-term evaluation of Tempus IV can be found on the Tempus website:


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