The information network on education in Europe, Eurydice has since 1980 been one of the strategic mechanisms established by the European Commission and Member States to boost cooperation, by improving understanding of systems and policies. Since 1995, Eurydice has also been an integral part of Socrates, the Community action programme in education.
Eurydice is an institutional network for gathering, monitoring, processing and circulating reliable and readily comparable information on education systems and policies throughout Europe.
Eurydice covers the education systems of the Member States of the European Union, the three countries of the European Free Trade Association which are members of the European Economic Area, and the EU candidate countries involved in the Socrates Programme.
Eurydice is committed, first and foremost, to offering policy-makers and all those involved in the provision of education with information and studies geared to their needs.
The Network boosts European cooperation in education by developing exchanges of information about systems and policies and producing studies on issues common to education systems.
In order to meet the varied needs of its users, Eurydice prepares and publishes the following:
• readily comparable and regularly updated monographs on the organisation of education systems;
• comparative studies on specific topics of Community interest;
Any issue related to educational policies (structures, reforms and trends) or to subjects associated with Community cooperation in education is liable to be considered by Eurydice.
Organisation of the Eurydice Network
First launched by the European Community in 1980, the Eurydice Network consists of a European Unit set up by the European Commission in Brussels and National Units established by education ministries in all countries taking part in Socrates, the EU education action programme.
Eurydice is a dynamic interdependent Network to whose work all Units contribute. The European Unit coordinates the activity of the Network, drafts and distributes most of its publications, and designs and administers Eurydice databases and the central website. National Units provide and are involved in processing the data on which this activity relies and ensure that the output of the Network reaches target groups within their countries. In most countries, Units are situated within the education ministry. In a few, however, they are located in library resource centres, or bodies for administration and research.
Publications and database catalogue 2003/04:
Eurydice publications may be broadly divided into descriptions of national education systems, comparative studies devoted to specific topics, and indicators and statistics.
The work of Eurydice thus involves close and thorough study of education systems, and particularly the goals and measures adopted by all institutions involved in educational endeavour, as well as the structure and functioning of particular courses.
All levels of education considered as a whole or, in appropriate cases, individually, may be the subject of analysis. The potential focus extends from pre-primary to higher education and also naturally includes teacher training.
Eurydice makes available to its users Eurybase, a highly detailed database – the only one of its kind – on all education systems covered by the Network.
Besides preparing basic and readily comparable general information on education systems and a European Glossary on Education, the Network has carried out, or is undertaking, work on:
• school measures for the children of migrants,
• changes in the structure of higher education linked to the Bologna process,
• the evaluation of schools,
• the teaching profession,
• key competencies in compulsory education,
• information and communication technologies in education,
• foreign language teaching in schools,
• the contribution of education systems to lifelong learning,
• the funding of schools,
• financial support for students in higher education,
• private education and the role of the public authorities,
• reforms in higher education since 1980.
Cooperation with other partners
Eurydice cooperates closely with several European or international organisations, as recommended in the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council on the Socrates Programme.
Since 1995, Key data on education in Europe has been published on the basis of a partnership between Eurydice and Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. Eurydice has been cooperating with Eurostat to update and regularly renew this broad spectrum of indicators. Their cooperation also focuses on the development of macroeconomic indicators included in studies in the Key topics in education in Europe series.
As a result of the increasingly close association between education and training, Eurydice is also involved in an important and highly productive partnership with Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training). The collaboration between them is particularly apparent in the joint publication of Structures of education, vocational training and adult education systems in Europe.
Another partner of Eurydice, the ETF (European Training Foundation) based in Turin, is also involved in the publication of Structures of education, vocational training and adult education systems in Europe, via its National Observatories in the countries of central and eastern Europe.
For several years, Eurydice has been developing cooperation with the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education.
Finally, the Eurydice European Unit supports the Commission in the work it undertakes, as appropriate, with international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).