TEMPUS is the European Union’s programme which supports the modernisation of higher education in the EU's surrounding area. Tempus promotes institutional cooperation that involves the European Union and Partner Countries and focuses on the reform and modernisation of higher education systems in the Partner Countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region.
It also aims to promote voluntary convergence of the higher education systems in the Partner Countries with EU developments in the field of higher education. With regards to the Western Balkans, Tempus contributes to preparing the candidate and potential candidate countries for a participation in the integrated Life Long Learning Programme.
In addition to promoting cooperation between institutions, Tempus also promotes a people-to-people approach.Tempus provides support to consortia of institutions composed mainly of universities or university associations. Non-academic partners can also be part of a consortium.
The Tempus programme is implemented in close coordination with the Erasmus Mundus programme which provides scholarships to third country students allowing them to participate in top-level Master courses and Doctorate programmes outside the EU.
The Commission considers higher education as an important priority for its cooperation activities with the neighbouring countries and the countries within its wider vicinity. The Tempus programme, which is the longest-standing EU programme in this sector and which has a strong focus on cooperation between higher education institutions, has entered a new phase running from 2007 to 2013. Since its inception in 1990, university cooperation under the Tempus programme has contributed successfully to institution building in higher education in the Partner Countries and to sustainable university partnerships, as well as to enhancing mutual understanding between the academic worlds of the European Union and the Partner Countries.
Particularly in the Partner Countries, higher education institutions are currently facing major challenges linked to (i) dramatic demographic changes (number of people potentially having access to higher education, age structure, migration flows), (ii) increasing global competition, leading to a considerable shift in the distribution of the economic power at world level, (iii) changes in science and technology but notably the growing importance of organisational and societal innovation rather than purely technological innovation and last but not least (iv) challenges of societies in transition (social cohesion, human rights, etc.).
Higher education institutions are therefore key players in the successful transition to a knowledge-based economy and society and they provide the training for a new generation of leaders. They are the pools of expertise and centres for the development of human resources. Higher education institutions are also important factors in growth and competitiveness, and play a crucial role in the reform agenda of both EU Member States and the Tempus Partner Countries.
The overall objective of Tempus is to contribute to the creation of an area of cooperation in the field of higher education between the European Union and the Tempus Partner Countries.
The specific objectives of Tempus are as follows:
Priority themes under Tempus are defined around the main components of the EU's higher education modernisation agenda and are therefore structured in the following three building blocks:
National and regional priorities are defined based on these themes.
The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) is responsible for the management / implementation of all Tempus Actions and acts under powers delegated by the European Commission.
The formal responsibility for supervising the activities of the Tempus Programme lies with two departments of the European Commission, the EuropeAid Development and Cooperation Office (DEVCO) and the Directorate-General for Enlargement (ELARG), since both allocate funds directly to the Executive Agency to manage the Programme. In line with their mandate, the European External Action Service (EEAS) contributes to the strategic orientations of the Programme and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (EAC) brings in its sectoral expertise and facilitates linkages with the EU's internal higher education reform policies. These two Commission Departments are therefore also associated with the implementation of the Tempus Programme.
The programme is funded on an annual basis by the following financial instruments: