The Jean Monnet quality label aims to generate interest in EU affairs courses and is a yardstick in higher education circles. It is a sign of excellence that undoubtedly makes the students' choices easier.
When it was set up in 1989, "the main aim of the [Jean Monnet] Programme was to introduce classes on European integration into universities," explains an official from the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), which has been in charge of the programme for around fifteen years. The official added that this initiative met "a specific demand from universities themselves" because "there were not enough specialists, in particular in the areas of Community law, economics and political sciences".
One of the key actions developed by this programme is the funding of chairs, ad personam chairs, centres of excellence, modules (see box) within the European Union and beyond (see separate article) for a period of three years. To benefit from that, courses must meet quality requirements. "Selecting them is very difficult," said the person responsible for the programme. The evaluation is carried out by the agency itself and is based on four main criteria: the quality of professors, the quality of content, the impact of the courses that are run and, since 2009, innovation. This latter criterion makes it possible to reward the creation of new courses about EU affairs. It is to be noted that the agency states that it is very careful not to interfere with academic independence and scrupulously respects different critical analyses of the European integration process.
But, beyond its financial aspects, the programme has a very symbolic aspect: the awarding of the Jean Monnet seal of quality. This is a sign of excellence which is undoubtedly recognised in academic circles.
"The financial support is not very high," states the person responsible at the agency. "We receive a large number of applications. Last year, we had recorded 555 of them. That shows that the interest in the Jean Monnet Programme is not just financial but is also about the label, about being part of the network."
Obtaining the Jean Monnet label is a solid reference, which can direct the choices of people wanting to train themselves in EU affairs as they then have an assurance of the quality of the courses, teachers and the value of the certificate that will be issued. In addition, adds the person responsible for the programme, "we give a lot of...