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Welcome to the Home Page of the
European Commission DGI-b ALFA Programme

This World Wide Web site has the objective of publishing all the information related to the "Latin America Academic Formation" programme of the European Commission.

This site is divided in four major areas:

  • ALFA: this home page
  • INFO: general information on the programme and guides
  • NEWS: become aware of the most recent events and reports
  • FILES: includes text files with application forms, guides and other useful documents

Launching of second phase of ALFA Programme

Continuation of the of the launching procedure of the ALFA II Programme within the framework of the same was officially approved by the European Commission for another six years on 4 December 1998.

The necessary procedures for management of the activities inherent in the Programme are still being developed at the present time. The opening of the programme to reception of new proposals will be suitably disseminated through both the present website and other communications media. In the meantime, the management of projects approved during the initial phase — most of which are still being implemented — continues at the present time, within the framework of ALFA activities.

 

We thank you once again for your interest in ALFA activities, despite any delays which may unfortunately have occurred in comparison to the scheduled timetable. Any information relating to the development of ALFA activities will be duly communicated by means of the present website.


ALFA, an "inter-pares" cooperation

Manuel Marin

Vice-President of the European Commission

More than 500 years ago, European culture put down its first roots in Latin American, where, combined with the cultures of ancient local civilizations, it created a unique culture. We should not forget that Europe founded the first universities in Latin America in the 16th century, including the university of San Marcos in Peru, as well as others in Santo Domingo and Mexico between 1548 and 1551. In return, Latin America became a source of inspiration for philosophical, political, and literary thought, including "Utopia" by Thomas More, the "City of the Sun" by Tommaso Campanella, and "The Incas" by Marmontel. All these works refer to Incan society as an ideal, a concept also found in Rameau's ballet "The Gallant Indians". We should also recall the great discoveries, such as Baron Alexander von Humboldt's discovery of the cold ocean current traveling from Antarctica up the west coast of Latin America, or the establishment of the earth's equator in 1788 by the French academician Louis Marle de la Comdaninee. All these things link Latin America and Europe in a constant relationship which is not only cultural but economic, the earliest landmark of which included the investments of the Flemish bankers Fuggers and Welzer in the form of capital to Carlos V of Spain to enable completion of the discovery of Latin America.

All the above makes Latin America today a place to which European culture must return in search of the roots it put down five hundred years ago, roots which flourished from the 17th to the 20th centuries through Latin American emancipation and later development. This is what enables Europe to view Latin America as a natural partner; when we consider that culture is the driving impetus behind many other expressions of human life, it is obvious that, to Europe, this pathway, which it has already traveled, is once again the best means to an understanding with a region now firmly setting forth upon the paths of development, and whose firmest links and foundations may be found in its mother continent of Europe.
All this explains why ALFA was designed precisely as a response of the European Commission to the need, on the part of both parties, for a dialogue capable of surging and developing from a common cultural heritage.

After intense study, the ALFA programme began functioning with the approval of some eighty networks, with many more to be approved in the near future. At the same time, it is therefore of the greatest importance for proper programme development to outline the framework of the Commission's expectations with regards to ALFA and its role in the development of relations between the European Union and Latin America.

Over the past few years, cooperation in development between the European Union and Latin America has been characterized, among other things, by an increasing emphasis on training. This is not the result of chance; it is the reflection of the growing conviction, on the part of both Latin American governments and the European Commission, of the fundamental importance of human capital in the process of economic development, as well as of the crucial role which inter- university cooperation may play in the rapprochement, mutual understanding, and development of economic relations between the two regions.

In fact, it is impossible to imagine the concretization of an intense and increasing flow of trade without a strengthening of training, particularly in a world in which rapid technological progress requires continual professional adaptation. It is precisely in response to this requirement, strongly felt in both regions, that the long- term objectives of the ALFA programme are directed. ALFA is a definite attempt to promote institutional and scientific cooperation to raise levels of training for the purpose of providing an impulse to the development, growth, and evolution of economic and cultural relations between the two regions. The actual achievement of these ambitious objectives, and many others, will depend in large part on the spirit in which the networks succeed in carrying on their work. I wish to mention the fact that ALFA's network structure implies the possibility of a new, more advanced type of cooperation which may be termed "inter pares". The essence of such cooperation lies in the fact that it implies contributions in both directions; Europe helps Latin America to grow, while Latin America simultaneously helps Europe to grow, offering new advantages superseding and abolishing the concept of cooperation expressed in the slogan "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for one day; teach him to fish, and he'll eat for the rest of his life."

To make this a reality will require a two- fold effort on the part of the networks. In the first place, the projects, both in the fields of institutional and scientific cooperation, must be innovative (for example, suggesting the adoption of study curricula better suited to the conditions of demand on the local labor markets). In the second place, and this is a fundamental point of reference, every participating institution must commit itself to an active role permitting the creation of synergy in a process of gradual but continual improvement.

We may certainly say that, in the final analysis, ALFA will only succeed in reaching its objectives with the appearance of improvements in quality of far- reaching benefit to the universities of both regions.

Today's universities are the principal institutions able to practice true inter- pares cooperation, and, as a result, able to overcome the limitations of focusing upon a donor - beneficiary relationship which sometimes makes functional cooperative activity more difficult. Underlying the challenge resulting from collaboration between universities in the developed countries and those in the developing countries, is a common denominator: the university spirit. This spirit is common to all those who take responsibility in the university, and make training, both of themselves of others, the center of their own existence. The academic worlds of Latin America and Europe have great potential which, once placed in reciprocal interaction, will, together, produce a culture permitting improved training of future directors and executives for the public and private sectors. This is the culture the European Commission intends to create through a programme such as ALFA: a culture of cooperation, development, and solidarity between peoples. It is a culture of solidarity between those who assume the social and political responsibility of developing the potential of their own countries.

In conclusion, the hope of the European Commission is that ALFA will mark the opening of a new phase in relations between the European Union and Latin America: a phase based on closer, more profound collaboration between the academic media of both regions, a phase able to generate development implying new ways of seeing and viewing the world, reflected in all aspects of life.

 



Programme Guide

1. Introduction

1.1 Objective
1.2 Structure
1.3 Activities
1.4 Participation
1.5 Budget
1.6 Administration


1. Introduction
ALFA stands for "Amérique Latine - Formation Académique"; a programme approved by the Commission on March 10, 1994.

ALFA meets the guidelines set up by Regulation (EEC) 443/92 regarding the reinforcement of economic cooperation of mutual interest and those defined in the third generation cooperation agreements signed by the European Community and the countries of Latin America. In this context, training actions were considered as a priority, in particular those related to higher level resources.

ALFA's aim is to improve both the scientific and the technological potentials as well as the economic, social and cultural context through training actions and transfer of knowledge, thus encouraging training and research in the field of regional cooperation.

ALFA benefits from the experience acquired by the European Union through similar programmes (ERASMUS, TEMPUS, MED-CAMPUS, etc.) which are based on cooperation networks set up by higher education institutions.
1.1. Objective

ALFA's main objectives are :

To encourage cooperation between Latin America and Europe in the field of higher education in order to make up for the deficiencies and overcome the disparities and unbalances between those two regions by improving the scientific, academic and technological potential of Latin America.

To promote cooperation programmes through networks of higher education institutions from Europe and Latin America with a view to carrying-out common academic activities, facilitating the exchange of post-graduates and university students and other activities, thus contributing to the regional integration of Latin American countries and to the reinforcement of exchanges among those countries.
1.2. Structure

The ALFA Programme will operate via networks integrated by higher education institutions respecting a balanced participation between Europe and Latin America.

Its activities are gathered in two sub-programmes :

Sub-programme A - COOPERATION FOR INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT;

Sub-programme B - COOPERATION FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL TRAINING.
1.3 Activities

1.3.1 Sub-programme A - Cooperation for institutional management
- includes the following subjects :
  • academic and administrative management;
  • academic recognition of grades, titles and degrees
  • improvement, adaptation and, if needed, harmonization of curricula;
  • cooperation between institutions of higher education and companies (the term "company" refers to all kinds of economic activities. Moreover, it includes local and regional bodies, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, professional associations, foundations and employers' and trade-unions' organizations, among others.)
  • innovation and systematization of the educational task;
  • institutional assessment.


1.3.2. For the development of sub-programme A - Cooperation for institutional management - study trips, organization of seminars and intensive courses (cf. 2.3.1.) will be encouraged.

1.3.3. Sub-programme B - Cooperation for scientific and technological training - aims at :

  • supporting curricula for
  • advanced training (Ph.D's, master's degrees and professional specializations);
  • complementary training (of students from the last two years of a higher education (degree) and
  • devising common research projects.

ALFA will give full priority to academic projects related to :

  • economic and social sciences in general and, in particular:

company management;
public service;
economics and economic law;
environmental studies;
regional integration;
rural development;
regional and urban planning;
social and educational policy.

  • engineering science;
  • medicine and other health sciences.

1.3.4. For the development of sub-programme B - Cooperation for scientific and technological training - the following activities will be promoted :

  • preparatory meetings regarding the exchange projects (cf. 2.3.2.);
  • technical meetings and short stays to devise and set up common research projects (for the researchers involved);
  • stays of a maximum of two years for Ph.D's or master's degrees and of a maximum of one year for professional specialization (for post-graduates);
  • stays of up to ten months to attend classes which will be recognized in the institution of origin or to attend intensive courses included or not in the curriculum (for students);

 


1.4. Participation

The higher education institutions of Latin America and of the European Union formally recognized by the governments of their respective countries as such may take part in the programme.

The countries participating in the programme are the Member States of the European Union as well as the following countries of Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.
1.5. Budget

ALFA's initial budget amounts to 40 million ECU. The European Union will provide 32 million ECU and the beneficiary institutions will ensure a minimum of 8 million ECU through own or third party contributions.

The Commission finances up to 80% of the global cost of the submitted projects. A limited contribution of at least 20% per network and per budget is asked from the participating institutions to finance certain specific parts of each network's projects (counter-part or co-financing).
1.6. Administration
The European Commission (Directorate for Latin America of the Directorate General for External Relations - DG IB) is responsible for carrying out the programme in collaboration with a Technical Assistance Office and a Scientific Committee.

The Technical Assistance Office, selected through a call for tenders, gives general assistance to the Commission in the execution of the programme.

The Scientific Committee is made up of six members selected among personalities of renowned experience in the scientific, academic and business communities. Its main function is to examine with total independence the projects submitted and give advises to assist the Commission in its decision-making process.
2. Participation in the ALFA programme
 


Candidate Guide

I. Introduction


WHAT IS ALFA?

ALFA is an acronym for America Latina Formacion Academica, a 5-year programme approved by the European Commission on 10 March 1994.

The principal ALFA objectives are:

  • to encourage cooperation between Latin America and Europe, in the field of higher education in order to make up for the deficiencies and overcome the disparities and unbalances between those two region by improving the scientific, academic, and technological potential of Latin American
  • to promote cooperation programmes trough networks of higher European and Latin American educational institutions in the realization of joint academic activities as well as in postgraduate and university student mobility and other activities contributing to the regional integration of Latin American countries and the strengthening of interchanges between them.

The activities developed under Alfa are grouped into two subprogrammes:

Subprogramme A - Cooperation for Institutional Management

A.1
Activities:

  • academic and administrative management;
  • academic recognition of grades, titles, and degrees;
  • improvement, adaptation, and, if needed, harmonization of curricula;
  • innovation and systematization of educational task;
  • institutional assessment.

A.2 Activities:

  • cooperation between institutions of higher education and companies.

Subprogramme B - Cooperation for scientific and technological training.

B.1
Activities:

  • activities preparatory to mobility (for postgraduates and students).

B.2 Activities:

  • planning/design of common research projects.

B.3 Activities:

  • mobility for advanced training (Doctorates, Master's Degrees, and professional specialization)

B.4 Activities:

  • mobility for complementary training (for students from the two last years of a higher education degree).


ALFA grants priority to academic projects in the 3 following fields:

1. Economic and social sciences in general, particularly:

  • company management;
  • public service;
  • economics and economic law;
  • environmental studies;
  • regional integration;
  • rural development;
  • regional and urban planning;
  • social and educational policy.

2. The engineering sciences.

3. Medicine and other health sciences.

Provisional schedule for publication of invitations
(starting in 1996)

Subprogramme A Subprogramme B


April 96


pP A1


pP A2
 

pP B2
   
 

P A1


P A2


P B1


P B2


P B3
 


October 96


pP A1


pP A2
 

pP B2
   
 

P A1


P A2


p B1


P B2


P B3


P B4


April 97


P A1


P A2
 

P B2


P B3


P B4
             


October 97
       

P B3


P B4
             

 

Note: pP = pre–p;project; P = project
The session of examinations corresponds to the first and last days of the month indicated.

 


II. Specific Objectives


Experience accumulated over the course of the ALFA programme suggests the advisability of distributing the present document to the institutions concerned, in order to provide them with practical information and specific suggestions relating to each of the activities contained in the
ALFA programme.



Subprogramme A

  • A.1 Structural improvement of higher education

    A.1 activities are intended to support actions of institutional cooperation in company management as indicated in the introduction to the present document.

    The participants in network activities are intended to act jointly in analyzing experiences and in programming joint activities relating to academic and administrative management; the academic recognition of grades, titles, and degrees; the improvement, adaptation, and harmonization of curricula; innovation and systematization of educational task; and institutional assessment.

    Participants in A.1 activities are intended to be university management personnel: Presidents, Vice–p;chancellors, Rectors, Deans, directors of higher educational institutions, department heads, and managers or administrators of universities or university institutions. The subprogramme also covers professors or researchers in a particular scientific field doing research relating to the harmonization of educational curricula, innovation, and educational systematization.

    Instruments for the development of A.1 activities include meetings held in a network institution, study visits, seminars, workshops, and intensive courses (cf. section 1.3.2 of the Programme Guide).

    A.1 activities do not cover training or research activities, and are not intended to include the mobility of scholarship recipients or professors and researchers on teaching missions; in particular, projects relating to the harmonization of curricula not cover student mobility and lodgings during project completion.

    The maximum intended duration of A.1 activities is 2 years.

  • A.2 Cooperation between higher education institutions and companies

    A.2 activities are specifically intended to offer support to institutional collaboration activities between universities and companies (in the broadest sense of the word, including local and regional limited companies, autonomous public economic organizations, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, professional associations, foundations, and employer and/or trade union organizations).

    A.2 activities include two types of action:

    • Those involving the analysis of university/companies relations for the purpose of institutional improvement from a dual perspective. This covers projects carried out within the universities, taking account of academic and entrepreneurial points of view in order to improve the degree of linkage. Such projects will attempt to analyze, compare, discuss, or programme actions to improve university/companies linkage, taking account of the opinions and points of view of all possible associates. Such activity does not require the direct participation by companies concerns, though it is considered desirable that their points of view be taken into account through consultation, or through attempts at direct participation, with the object of ensuring that the results of the exercise shall not be merely academic in nature.
       
    • those proposing activities involving effective linkage with companies, for example, meetings to discuss changes in institutional curricula; seminars relating to prospective research and development trends of a pre–p;competitive nature; joint analysis of approach and linkage methodology; parallel participation in management activities; etc.. Such activity does require the active participation by companies concerns in the ALFA network, either individually or based on their membership in foundations or associations.


    A.2 activities involve the same participants as A.1 activities, but include companies representatives.

    Instruments for the development of A.2 activities include meetings in a network institution, study visits, seminars, workshops, and intensive courses (cf. section 1.3.2 of the Programme Guide).

    A.2 activities do not cover training, so that actions involving student activity of a practical nature in enterprises must be covered by B.1 activities. Nor does A.2 cover the mobility of scholarship recipients or professor–p;researchers on teaching missions.

    The maximum intended duration for A.2 activity is 2 years.

Subprogramme B

  • B.1 Preliminary activities to the mobility

    B.1 activities are intended to ensure the mobility of postgraduates or students which is the nuclear object of the Alfa programme, as concretized and made effective within the scope of B.3 and B.4 activities.

    B.1 academic projects include those in the economic and social sciences, as well as those in the engineering and health sciences (see section 1.3.3 of the Programme Guide) not covered by other scientific fields.

    There are two types of B.1 activities to consider, depending upon whether they are intended to prepare for the mobility of postgraduates or students.

    1. Postgraduate mobility preparation
    The objective is to prepare for the mobility of postgraduates in the completion of training programmes for a Doctorate, Master's Degree, or professional specialization.

    Participants in this subprogramme are intended to be teachers from one of the three scientific fields indicated in the above section and taking part in specific joint postgraduate training programmes for a maximum period of 1 year, in which the responsibilities of each institution are coordinated in filing for postgraduate mobility assistance during a later session of examinations (subprogramme B.3).

    Each project must be based upon the establishment of a new training programme in a definite area in one of the three corresponding scientific fields.

    Actions covered by B.1 activities are:

    • Definition of the level of the training programme (Doctorate, Master's Degree, specialization course); it is very important to mention this aspect, since the programme generated will differ in each case;
    • Joint definition of a specifically new training programme.
    • Agreements on the effective participation of each member of the network in the training program definition.It is logical to anticipate that such participation need not be identical as regards the number of teachers or credits involved in the programme; thus, if an institution offers no teaching staff to the programme but is only interested in sending students, that would be acceptable. The programme does not, however, extend to cases in which the training programme is established solely by the coordinating institution.
    • Identification of the institution to provide the training course: generally, the ALFA programme does not cover "modular" training, in which students would be required to travel to different institutions. Implementation of the training programme must be carried out in one of the network institutions, but part of the programme may be held in a second institution. If the network justifiably suggests that the training programme be held at more than two locations, the suggestion will be analyzed as an exception.
    • Anticipated agreements to be concluded to encourage access by scholarship recipients for recognition, by the institution of origin, of the training activity completed by the scholarship recipient, as well as for exemption from taxes, fees, and duties, including the mobility of teachers participating in the training programme during short stays.

    The ALFA programme does not cover the financing of scholarships for study courses, since these are already offered by universities on a regular basis.

    The maximum intended duration of a stay will be 2 years for Doctorates or Master's Degrees, and 1 year for professional specialization.

    2. Student mobility preparation

    The objective is to prepare for the mobility of students of the last two years of a higher education degree, for stays at network institutions, for participating in an intensive course (curricular or extracurricular ) or attending studies forming part of a curriculum offered on a regular basis.

    Consequently, the student mobility preparation involves two types of B.1 activity:

    • Network institutions preparing a specific programme (intensive curricular courses or extracurricular training activity);
      The B.1 activity in this case will be identical to that of postgraduate mobility preparation (for extracurricular activities), or it may be an adaptation of ordinary courses already offered on a regular basis (curricular intensive course ) by the university hosting the scholarship recipients.
      The maximum duration of a stay for students is intended to be less than 6 months.
       
    • B.4 activities also cover students during training periods in a network institution when the training is part of the programme already offered by the university on a regular basis and is recognized by the institution of origin.

    The preliminary activities to the mobility (B.1) in this case will lead to later recognition of the student training activities by the university of origin.

    The maximum duration of a stay for students is intended to be from 6 to 10 months.

    Development of the B.1 subprogramme does not cover training activities or short stays by researchers at network universities.

    Network size for B.1 activities must be sufficient to facilitate actual participation by each institution.

    On all application forms relating to B.1 activities, network institutions, and, in particular, the coordinating institution must document its ability to carry out the proposal effectively, providing a statement of its prior experience in the scientific field which is the object of the request, although it is acceptable for an institution to lack such experience.

  • B.2 Planning/design of common research projects

    B.2 activities are intended to stimulate collaboration between researchers from the countries which are the object of the ALFA programme, but only to facilitate suitable meetings in which researchers plan research projects on a joint basis. The ALFA programme does not cover financing for the development of research projects.

    B.2 projects cover the economic and social sciences, as well as the engineering and health sciences (see section 1.3.3 of the Programme Guide) not covering other scientific fields.

    In view of the nature of B.2 activities, the participants will be researchers in the above indicated scientific fields from network member institutions; they may receive assistance for travel and stays for the purpose of planning research projects on a joint basis.

    B.2 does not include the financing of travel or stays for research purposes, although assistance is provided for stays of less than one week at a network institution, for the purpose of gaining a better knowledge of the research performed by a given institution, thus assisting in the joint planning of the research project.

    In view of the objective of B.2, the research topics must be concrete in form and limited in scope, corresponding to a research project in one of the three scientific fields indicated above.

    All B.2 application forms must be completed with particular care, including section 1.6.2.4.2 ("scientific contributions or relevant experience in the scientific field which is the object of the candidature"); this does not refer to the institution, but to the teacher–p;researcher responsible for the project at his own institution.

    Network size for B.2 activities must be sufficient to facilitate the actual participation of each institution; this is generally achieved by small institutional networks with the objective of planning a research project on a joint basis.

    The maximum intended duration for completion of B.2 projects is 1 year.

  • B.3 Postgraduate mobility

    B.3 activities are intended to promote the mobility of postgraduates completing training programmes established by the network during B.1 activities, or in meetings not financed by the European Commission.

    Upon filing the request for assistance from the Commission to implement the training programme, the network must already possess firm agreements (in the form of documentation attached to the request schedule) relating to the required conditions for B.1 activities. Thus, the network draws up the programme to be implemented, completes each section on the B.3 schedule, as well as providing information on all agreements concluded to ensure the mobility of postgraduate scholarship recipients (conditions of access, recognition of credits, exemption from fees, taxes, and duties, as well as procedures for the session of scholarship examinations).

    It is a condition of B.3 is that host institutions may accept no payments from scholarship recipients for registration; all such sums must be included in the estimate as a network contribution.

    B.3 also covers the financing of travel costs and lodgings for teachers from network institutions during short stays at postgraduate host institutions.

    B.3 activities are not intended by ALFA to cover the isolated financing of short stays by laboratory researchers at network institutions. If activities of a practical nature, such as laboratory research work, arise during completion of the training programme, they must be covered by part of the training programme.

    The maximum duration of the stays, for each scholarship recipient, is intended to be 2 years for a Doctorate or Master's Degree, and 1 year for professional specialization.

  • B.4 Student mobility

    B.4 activities are intended to promote the mobility of students during the last two years of a higher education degree, for the completion of training programmes established by the network or in the development of B.1 activities, without the prior assistance of Community financing.

    B.4 activities generally take the same general characteristics into account as B.3 activities.

 


III. Concluding Remarks


Since the A and B subprogrammes of the ALFA programme have different objectives and involve different participants, requests for subprogrammes A and B must not be made on the same application form simultaneously.

If the same network wishes to request assistance in developing a project within the scope of subprogramme A (A.1 or A.2), simultaneously with another project within the scope of subprogramme B (B.1 or B.2), different application forms must be completed for each activity. In the case of subprogramme A, the responsible person listed on the subprogramme A application form must be an institutional administrator; while the responsible person listed on the subprogramme B application form must be a teacher–p;researcher in one of the scientific fields covered by the ALFA Programme.

Participation in the ALFA network by institutions outside the ALFA "geography" is considered exceptional. In any case, such institutions may not be included simply to attain the minimum number of network members (2 members from Latin American institutions and 3 members from institutions in the European Union); nor may the costs of their participation be reflected in the estimate budget.

 

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