During three days of September, a group of experts toured various Moldovan regions to speak to secondary school seniors, their teachers and parents about study opportunities the Moldovan students have in the European Union (EU).

As Moldova gradually deepens its relations with the EU, recently marked by signing of the Association Agreement, the range of benefits available for Moldovan citizens increases. That applies also to the education sector, particularly opportunities available for Moldovan students in the EU countries. Students from Moldova are now eligible to study at the EU universities under the same conditions as the EU students, they can participate in the Erasmus programme and have access to a number of scholarships and grants that can provide them with the needed funding.

Yet, after graduating from a secondary school, only a handful of students take advantage of these opportunities and leave for the EU to complete their university studies there. The reasons may vary but mostly come down to the lack of information, which – with the exception of Chisinau – is largely prominent in all regions of Moldova. Students across the country are thus left making important choices about their future careers largely unaware of the actual scope of study and funding possibilities, not even thinking about studying in the EU because of the falsely perceived administrative, language and financial barriers.

With the ambition to inform and motivate secondary school students as well as their teachers and parents, in order to start considering university studies in the EU, the Slovak Atlantic Commission organised the already third European Café tour titled “Moldova and the EU: What Education Opportunities do Moldovans Have?”, which consisted of four debates taking place on September 24-26.

During the tour, a group of speakers consisting of Mr. Róbert Kirnág, the Slovak ambassador to Moldova), Mr. Vitaly Levashenko, professor at the University of Žilina in Slovakia (Belarus), and Mr. Andrei Panici, a graduate of the American University in Bulgaria (Moldova), travelled to different regional localities across Moldova, including the town of Criuleni on the Dniester river (Lyceum Boris Dânga), the village of Cărpineni in the west-Moldovan Hâncești rayon (Lyceum Ștefan Holban) and the city of Soroca in the country’s north (Alexander Pushkin High School) and spoke to dozens of secondary school students about the reasons for and benefits of studying in the EU, the conditions under which they can study in the EU countries (i.e. free education in Slovakia), the advantages they have, especially their bilingualism and solid primary education background, about specific scholarships, including full six-years scholarships of the Slovak government, as well as about personal experiences and stories from applying to and studying at EU universities.

The third European Café tour was organised as the last part of the “Widening the European Dialogue in Moldova” project funded by SlovakAid, which has had an ambition to contribute to the efforts aimed at increasing the public support for EU integration in Moldova.