Tempus III

Tempus III

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Tempus III


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

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Tempus III (2000-06)

The objective of this trans-European cooperation scheme for higher education is to promote the development of higher education systems in eligible countries. It also seeks to strengthen cooperation between these eligible countries and the European Union (EU).

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 99/311/EC of 29 April 1999 adopting the third phase of the trans-European cooperation scheme for higher education (Tempus III) (2000-2006) [See amending act(s)].


Higher education and training are regarded as key areas in the process of economic and social reform. Therefore, the European Union (EU) is launching this third phase of the trans-European cooperation scheme for higher education (Tempus III). Tempus III, which runs from 1 July 2000 to 31 December 2006, follows on from Tempus I and II.

Initially, the Tempus III programme was intended only for the countries of central and eastern Europe, the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia, and beneficiaries of the PHARE and TACIS programmes. Now it covers all the beneficiary countries of the TACIS programme, the countries of the western Balkans benefiting from the CARDS programme and Euro-Mediterranean partnership countries benefiting from the MEDA programme.

Institutions in the European Union (EU) and candidate countries and the members of the group of 24 western industrialised countries other than the EU countries (Australia, Canada, the United States, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland) may take part in Tempus projects on the basis of co-financing only.

The specific aim of Tempus III is to promote the development of higher education systems in eligible countries by encouraging understanding between, and rapprochement of, cultures and by addressing the following issues:

  • issues relating to the development and reshaping of teaching syllabuses;
  • the reform of higher education structures and institutions and their management;
  • the development of training leading to qualifications, particularly by strengthening links with industry;
  • the contribution of higher education and training to citizenship and the strengthening of democracy.

Tempus encourages institutions in EU and partner countries to become involved in Joint European Projects (JEPs) of a maximum duration of three years. European projects will be carried out by a consortium including at least one university from an eligible country, a university from an EU country and a partner (university, company or institution) from another EU country.

Grants for joint projects will be awarded to:

  • teaching/administrative staff in universities or trainers from companies in EU countries to carry out teaching/training tasks for up to one year in eligible countries and vice versa;
  • teaching/administrative staff in universities in eligible countries to carry out periods of retraining and refresher courses in the EU;
  • students, up to post-graduate (including doctorate) level, both from eligible countries carrying out a period of study in the EU and from the EU carrying out a period of study in eligible countries. These grants will normally be awarded for a period of three months to one year;
  • students taking part in JEPs whose specific aim is to promote mobility. Priority will be given to students taking part in projects for which their home university will grant full academic recognition of the period of study spent abroad;
  • teachers, trainers, students and graduates in eligible countries for work placements from one month to one year between the end of their studies and their first job, to follow a period of practical training in European businesses and vice versa.

Funding is also awarded for certain structural and/or supporting measures (for example, technical assistance, seminars, studies, publications, information activities). These measures are intended to support the programme aims, in particular by contributing to the development and restructuring of higher education systems in eligible countries.

In addition, the EU awards individual grants for visits intended to promote the quality, development and restructuring of higher education and training in eligible countries. Recipients of these grants may be teachers, researchers, trainers, university administrators, senior civil servants from ministries, managers of education systems and other training experts.

The Commission and competent authorities of each eligible country will together define the detailed priorities and objectives of Tempus III as part of the national strategy for economic and social reform.

The Commission will implement Tempus III in accordance with its objectives and priorities. It will be assisted by an advisory committee comprising a representative of each EU country and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The Commission will cooperate with the:

  • institutions of each eligible country that are set up or designated to coordinate the practical implementation of Tempus III;
  • competent national institutions designated by EU countries.

The Commission will ensure consistency and complementarity between Tempus III and other EU measures taken with a view to assisting eligible countries, particularly with regard to the activities of the European Training Foundation (ETF). The Commission will also organise appropriate coordination with operations undertaken by non-EU countries or by universities or the business sector in such countries. These operations may include various forms of participation in Tempus III projects.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 99/311/EC

29.4.1999 – 31.12.2006

OJ L 120 of 8.5.1999

Amending act(s) Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2000/460/EC

22.7.2000 – 31.12.2006

OJ L 183 of 22.7.2000

Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000

7.12.2000 – 31.12.2006

OJ L 306 of 7.12.2000

Decision 2002/601/EC

27.6.2002 – 31.12.2006

OJ L 195 of 24.7.2002

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 28 April 2010 – Report on the External ex-post Evaluation of the 3rd Phase of the Tempus Programme 2000-2006 [COM(2010) 190 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Tempus III programme was perceived as relevant with regard to its global, specific and operational objectives, and in particular regarding its main objective of promoting the reform and modernisation of higher education at the institutional level. The programme’s bottom-up character allowed national priorities to be formulated as well as gave consideration to the different aspects of the reform process. Though the programme’s role in other EU policies and complementarity with other EU programmes was clear, complementarity with the Erasmus Mundus needed to be further improved.
Furthermore, though funding for projects was considered sufficient, the funding levels in general were not high enough for the ambitious objectives of the programme. Nevertheless, the programme was perceived as cost-effective, especially due to its multilateral nature, project approach and management mechanisms.
Tempus III greatly contributed to the development of higher education systems. It also contributed to a broader societal relevance of higher education by strengthening links between higher education, business, research and innovation, as well as to the promotion of cultural understanding and rapprochement. Teachers in particular benefited from their participation in the programme and teaching was greatly modernised as well as better aligned with the needs of the society and the labour market. The EU higher education institutions benefited the most in terms of increased internationalisation. The programme also made a positive contribution in terms of reinforcing regional cooperation among the partner countries. The size, scope and nature of the programme developed Tempus into a quality brand.
The programme produced sustainable benefits as it:

  • increased knowledge through projects and of study areas;
  • strengthened working practices, teaching and management skills;
  • improved cultural awareness as well as awareness of the EU institutions;
  • introduced new curricula;
  • created an innovative culture within the educational institutions.

Furthermore, the programme strengthened the creation of sustainable partnerships in higher education between EU and partner countries. Stakeholders also make a great financial commitment to continue with the activities and networks created through the programme.
However, further efforts are still needed to continue reforming the higher education sector as well as the higher education structures. This report therefore provides a number of recommendations to be taken into consideration in the Tempus IV programme.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 16 July 2007 – Annual Report on the Operation of the Third Phase of the Tempus Programme in 2006 [COM(2007) 420 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Tempus budget in 2006 amounted to € 53.45 million. The main action lines of the programme were guided by three priorities. In order to improve the dissemination and exploitation of the results of the programme, the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) used various tools, such as a new leaflet, new promotional material, and a DVD entitled “Tempus in action”. Information campaigns were organised in most of the partner countries and in certain EU countries. The Commission also drew on regional studies and conferences, such as that of Amman (Jordan) held in April 2006. The strengthening of field monitoring activities goes hand in hand with the consolidation of the role of regional offices. These national offices have visited around 80 projects for monitoring purposes, whilst the field monitoring carried out jointly by the ETF and desk officers in DG EAC covered around 30 projects from autumn 2005 to spring 2006. Finally, the Commission notes that the commitments and payments under Tempus proceeded in line with the established planning.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 August 2006 – Tempus Annual Report 2005 [COM(2006) 491 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The priorities of the Tempus programme in 2005 have all been satisfactorily achieved. With regard to reinforcing the involvement of national authorities in the implementation of the programme, this has revealed the important role played by Tempus and its function as a testing ground for cooperation and reforms in partner countries. The Commission has developed a new approach to consulting education ministries in partner countries to strengthen their involvement in the implementation of the programme by seeking their opinion on the final scores of projects, thus adding more weight to the final selection.
When it comes to strengthening the role of National Tempus Offices (NTOs), these play a key role in the implementation of the programme by providing information to programme users and feedback to the European Commission on on-going projects. In 2005, the Commission further reinforced its cooperation with the NTO network, particularly in the preparation of NTO work programmes and to involve them more closely in field monitoring activities that complement the Commission’s activities and its technical assistance. The Commission selected new NTOs for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and the NTO for Russia was opened; all the NTOs were operational at the end of 2005.
With regard to consolidating programme management, one of the first priorities was to streamline the financial management of the programme that had been repatriated from the ETF in 2003 as a result of the entry into force of the new Financial Regulation. The number of individual mobility grants was reduced from 800 to 150 per year in order to bring the volume of activity down to a manageable level. The guide for applicants was amended to simplify the management of individual mobility grants, which are to be considered as scholarships transferred in their entirety to the successful applicants as a one-off payment. An ambitious field monitoring programme targeting 10% of the running projects and involving more than 50 on-site visits was implemented in line with the recommendations from the mid-term evaluation, whose conclusions were positive in terms of the performance of most of the projects visited, objectives met and relevance to the national reform agenda. The NTOs should visit 60% of running projects. The planning for the field monitoring campaign 2005/2006 was adopted in autumn 2005, with the involvement of the Commission, experts from the ETF and the NTOs, thus giving the Commission a better insight into what is happening in the field. In addition, the organisation of preventive monitoring of the programme took the form of a training and networking seminar for coordinators of Tempus-Tacis projects selected in 2004. Five selection procedures, with a high number of applications per selection round showing interest in the programme, were concluded during 2005 for JEPs (curriculum development, university management, institution-building covering a wide range of areas), structural and complementary measures (design of quality assurance systems, introduction of credit transfer mechanisms, updating of training programmes, the use of information and communication technologies and the strengthening of international relations directly linked to the action lines of the Bologna process) and individual mobility grants (retraining and study periods, preparatory activities for JEPs and participation in specific conferences and seminars). A total amount of approximately €57 million was committed under Tempus and a total amount of around €51.7 was awarded to the projects selected.
The dissemination of programme results was enhanced first of all by the re-design of the Tempus website and its regular updating, and secondly by studies carried out. The study on the sustainability of higher education programmes was finalised at the end of 2005, enabling applicants and project coordinators to identify factors that support and ensure the sustainability of international cooperation projects in higher education and training. The study provides a new tool, a handbook on sustainability, and a promotional leaflet. Two further thematic studies were launched in 2005 with support from the ETF:

  • a study on university-enterprise cooperation, in order to review trends and developments in university-enterprise cooperation in partner countries and to promote its importance for students;
  • impact studies providing an illustration of the impact of Tempus on higher education institutions, on individuals involved in higher education and on organisations linked to or benefiting from the higher education system, with the aim of enhancing dissemination of information on the programme and contributing to the discussions on the future Tempus programme.

A video entitled ‘Tempus in Action’ was commissioned and contains interviews with project participants. Tempus National Contacts Points in the Member States continue to play an important role by facilitating the involvement of EU higher education institutions. Tempus information days were organised in most partner countries, as well as in some EU countries.
Preparation of the future Tempus programme continues with the commitment to extend the Tempus programme beyond 2006, focussing strongly on institution-based university cooperation and including students from neighbouring countries. Higher education remains a priority for EU cooperation activities with neighbouring countries.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 October 2005 – Tempus Annual Report 2004 [COM(2005) 515 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission explains that dialogue and consultation with the authorities responsible for higher education in partner countries has strengthened national priorities, which should help to maximise the programme’s impact on the development of partner countries’ higher education systems. Tempus has been instrumental in supporting partner countries’ efforts to put Bologna-related issues higher on the reform agenda. The Commission concludes that the increased support for individual mobility of higher education professionals and the introduction of structural and complementary activities, coupled with dialogue and national priorities, have helped to confirm Tempus as an instrument of choice.

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 February 2005 – Tempus report 2002 and 2003 [COM(2005) 26 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This is the Commission’s report on the implementation of the Tempus programme in 2002 and 2003. On the basis of highly positive external evaluations, the Commission refers to two parallel processes, namely the pursuit of programme implementation reform and the successful launch and consolidation of the programme with the Mediterranean region partners (under the Euro-Mediterranean partnership MEDA). It also mentions the introduction of a new type of project (structural and complementary measures). Tempus is now entering a period of consolidation, and the Commission’s conclusion is that the programme will continue to play a central role in the new geopolitical situation in post-enlargement Europe.

Report from the Commission to the Council of 8 March 2004 on the interim evaluation of the third phase of the Tempus programme [COM(2004) 157 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The report considers that, taking into account the particular conditions in the beneficiary countries (i.e. the CARDS, TACIS and MEDA countries), Tempus continues to be a relevant and efficient tool to address current needs in the area of higher education.
In both CARDS and TACIS countries, the transition is still quite far from complete and the process is suffering because of sluggish economies, limited capacity for the implementation of reforms, weak social welfare measures, disruptions in public services and high public finance deficits. Public expenditure on education is suffering because of this. Across the TACIS and CARDS regions more and more students are going on to higher education, while funding in real terms remains at around a third of levels ten years ago.
In many of the MEDA countries, although set in an entirely different historical context, higher education has also suffered from severe under-funding. In the poorest MEDA countries, the chronic lack of available funds has been compounded by the prevailing view amongst the international donor community that aid for education should concentrate on primary and secondary education. This was thought to be more cost-effective and to provide higher short-term social returns than investment in higher education. This view has changed in the recent past and support for higher education is now considered to be a key factor in sustainable development.
The Commission points out that there is no significant difference in the way in which the national priorities have been established for different countries, but there continue to be differences as to the nature and presentation of national priorities. Given the importance of national priorities in relation to the success of the programme, the Commission encourages higher education institutions to make their knowledge available to citizens in response to new needs arising from processes of societal change. On the whole, Tempus has achieved the expected results in terms of the impact on higher education reforms.
In particular, JEPs have contributed to legislative and regulatory changes in the field of higher education. They also contribute to openness and preparedness for international cooperation among higher education institutions, the reform of institutions management, curriculum development, the training of decision-makers and to sustainable partnerships between higher education institutions in the EU and in the eligible countries.
In order to increase the programme’s impact, the report proposes that additional emphasis be placed on information exchange, the dissemination of results and enhanced university-industry relations with an explicit focus on employability. It also proposes the integration of Tempus JEPs with vocational training programmes for teacher training and the dissemination of innovative results. While the report acknowledges the Commission’s recent efforts to streamline procedures, it proposes less rigid rules for contracting and financial administration.

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 February 2003 – Tempus – Annual Report 2001 [COM(2003) 90 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Generally, the report describes how the inclusion of the CARDS countries in the Tempus programme has led to a considerable increase in the number of demands. The report also highlights the importance of the reform initiated by the Commission in the management of the programme and the applicable procedures.

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 June 2002 – Tempus (Phare/CARDS and Tacis) Annual Report 2000 [COM(2002) 323 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The report highlights the role that universities in south-eastern Europe can play in promoting mutual understanding across cultural and ethnic boundaries and enabling a more efficient use of human resources via academic cooperation at regional level.

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