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European research networks in vocational education and training

Section: Overview of networks

Networks are essential for facilitating collaboration, exchange of knowledge and mutual learning. The analysis in this presentation focuses on European research project partnerships and three networks which have had particular impact on promoting collaboration between researchers: FORUM, CEDRA and VETNET. Altogether, the term 'network' in this analysis stands for a broad variety of communities of researchers characterised by a certain (even if minimal) organisational structure. 

Project partnerships have been supported by the European Commission via the Leonardo programme, the research framework programmes (FP4 and FP5) and similar programmes. Included in this analysis are 29 projects (from the period 1995 to 2003) carrying out research in European vocational education. The project coordinators and partners under contract are institutions only; however, in reality the formation of partnerships rests on individuals; this analysis is therefore concerned with partner and coordinator persons.

The FORUM (Forum for European Research in Vocational Education and Training) emerged as an informal group of researchers  in the mid-1990s, received temporary support by the European Commission (1998-2001), and resumed its informal activities for a brief period after the support had ended.

CEDRA, the CEDEFOP Research Arena, was initiated in the late 1990s with the aim of promoting opportunities for researchers to collaborate in sharing and developing knowledge about vocational education and training; CEDRA is neither a network of the FORUM type nor a project partnership; it is perceived as an environment for voluntary collaboration among researchers.

VETNET, the Vocational Education and Training Network, was set up in 1994, in the context of the European Educational Research Association (EERA). The network has become associated with a Board and an open membership related to participants in the VETNET programme provided for the annual European Conference of Educational Research (ECER). 

More details about these networks will be provided in the individual sections of the analysis. A list of networks including home pages is available in the annex.

The following figures compare the networks described above in terms of composition and participation by country.

Figure 1: Networks: Composition (medium+text/ large)
Figure 2: Networks: Participation by country (medium+text/ large)

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 Contact: Sabine Manning