In the past 30 years, the international dimension of Higher Education in Europe has become high on the agenda of European Commission, DG EAC, Executive Agency in Brussels, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), student organizations and National agencies.
Official involvement of N. Macedonia in this initiative for internationalization in Higher Education began in 2009, when N. Macedonia establish National Agency for European Educational Program and Mobility and started to implement Erasmus program (Lifelong Learning Program and Youth in Action).
After 4–5 years of preparatory measures finally in 2014 N. Macedonia became program country in Erasmus+ program at the same level with same rules, regulations and obligations as EU member states.
The aim of Erasmus+ program is improving the quality of higher education. This is through the fact that 43% of total budget for Erasmus+ is pointed for Higher Education (individual mobilities, partnerships between HEIs, Capacity Building in Higher Education — CBHE, Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, Knowledge Alliance and Jean Monnet action).
Since 2014 students and staff have full possibilities to participate in Erasmus+ program and since 2017 can be involved in Study in Europe project which is developed from European Commission and lead by DAAD Germany, Campus France and Academic Cooperation Association — ACA.
In total trough Erasmus+ program 2214 students and staff have conducted student mobilities, student traineeships and staff teaching assignments in program countries (EU countries, EFTA countries, Turkey and Serbia) and partner countries (western Balkans countries/Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Hercegovina and outside of borders of Europe as Asia, Africa, South America).
On the other hand, number of incoming students from program and partner countries is higher than outgoing and its estimated at 2354 students and staff.
In Republic of N. Macedonia there are 25 accredited HEIs, out of which 6 are state/public universities and 19 are private HEIs. All state/public universities hold valid ECHE charter for the whole duration of Erasmus+, while interest for applying at private HEIs for ECHE charter is increasing each year.
Regarding conducted analyses from National Agency for European Educational Programs and Mobility in N. Macedonia each year there are less students that are enrolled at Higher Education Institutions every year. This is trough the fact that birth rate decreases in the country as well as migration. Тhe key to success in Higher Education is related to building capacities regarding international dimension at HEIs and enrolling foreign students in our country. National Agency is in close cooperation with Educational Export Center from Russia which is from huge help regarding promotion of Macedonian HEIs all around the globe and possibilities for studies.
From 2014 until 2019 there was a large decline in student enrollment in the first year of study (undergraduate, master and doctoral/PhD). Out of 21,121 students enrolled in 2014, in 2019 a total of 14,729 students enrolled, or 30% less. The largest decline in enrolled students is noted in public higher education institutions, up to 60% reduction. On the other hand, there is an increase in Erasmus student mobilities and traineeships for foreign and domestic students, from a total granted mobilities of 283 in 2014, to 980 student mobilities and traineeships in 2019, which is an increase of 350%.
Non-EU countries/HEIs can be involved in Erasmus+ program as partner countries and this is established in program 2014–2020 and with new Erasmus+ program 2021–2027. In general, estimated budget for Erasmus+ program for this 7-year period is doubled in comparison to period from 2014 to 2020, which represents that this European program in field of Education (formal, non-formal and informal), youth and sport is most popular and most comprehensive program at European level.
Cooperation between Macedonian HEIs and HEIs from partner countries from other continents can be established with support of Macedonian National Agency web page www.na.org.mk, еmail: firstname.lastname@example.org and in collaboration with Educational Export Center web page www.eduexport.ru, еmail: email@example.com, which is in close cooperation with Macedonian National Agency.