Pismo Komisarz Europejskiej Mariyi Gabriel do PUE z dnia 13 maja 2020 r.

13 maja, 2020

Dear Dr. Blonski,

I thank you for your letter of 31 March 2020 regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education sector, and more particularly on private higher education institutions in Poland. I appreciate very much your feedback.

The Commission is working closely with EU Education Ministries, Erasmus+ National Agencies, representatives from higher education networks and student organisations to provide solid support to the EU’s higher education institutions, their staff and students during these trying times, so as to best complement the various actions taken at regional and national level.

There are a number of EU-level instruments, which may complement the national support provided to higher education institutions. Private higher education institutions are eligible to apply for the European Structural and Investment Funds under the Operational Programme Wiedza, Edukacja, Rozwój (Priority Axis III). You may find more information by accessing the following link. On 2 April, the European Commission proposed numerous changes to the cohesion policy rulebook in order to mobilise€37 billion of unused funds for various measures alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes investment in IT equipment to close the digital gap so that no student is left behind.

It is also pertinent to note that the European Investment Fund has just launched a Call for Expression of Interest, addressed to “Financial Intermediaries”, to invest in Skills & Education. You may access this call at the following link. Beyond traditional banks, the scheme explicitly targets higher education institutions directly to act as an intermediary benefiting from the EU guarantee. This new scheme is a pilot for the Social Investment Window under InvestEU and targets the supply and demand side of the education and training sectors. It covers individual support such as student loan schemes, as well as institutional support.

When it comes to the Erasmus+ Programme, we have launched a series of measures to address the impact of COVID-19 on students and institutions. Higher education institutions are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in helping students achieve the outcomes indicated in their learning agreements, regardless of the students’ location, through remote studying arrangements with the use of digital tools. This flexibility will in particular help students who have returned to their home countries to finish their courses at their host institution and to have the ECTS credits obtained through remote studying arrangements fully recognised. This is an approach that we would like to continue in the future Erasmus Programme, as we are planning to introduce the concept of blended mobility, whereby a period of short physical mobility may be combined with a virtual mobility component. More information is available on the Erasmus+ website.

I hope that you will be able to make use of these measures in tackling this difficult crisis.

Yours sincerely,
Mariya Gabriel