Recommendation 1353 (1998)1
Access of minorities to higher education
1. The Assembly believes that minorities should be able to express their identity and
to develop their education, culture, language and traditions, and that states should take
all necessary measures to this end. Moreover, this is the only way by which Europe will be
able to preserve its rich cultural diversity.
2. Education is a fundamental human right and therefore access to all levels, including
higher education, should be equally available to all permanent residents of the states
signatories to the European Cultural Convention.
3. This is not the case at present as members of national minorities are often
under-represented in higher education. The cost of provision, problems of recognition of
qualifications, the lack of suitable primary and secondary education and, in some cases,
political opposition contribute to this situation.
4. According to several studies and in particular the results of the three year
project on access to higher education in Europe conducted by the Higher Education and
Research Committee (CC-HER) of the Council for Cultural Co-operation the
socio-economic situation of minorities is very often also an obstacle to their access to
higher education. This is particularly true in the case of Roma/Gypsies.
5. Statistical data on the participation of minorities in higher education is, in many
European countries and for different reasons, very incomplete.
6. The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers ask the
governments of states signatories to the European Cultural Convention to take account of
the following principles when reviewing their national education policies:
i. governments should avoid prescribing the exclusive use of the official language and
abstain from pursuing policies aimed at the assimilation of national minorities into the
ii. persons belonging to a linguistic minority should have access to suitable types and
levels of public education in their mother tongue in order to prepare for higher
iii. all citizens should have the possibility to study their own language and culture
in general, and also at university level; persons belonging to minority groups should be
encouraged to take part in higher education in their own country as well as abroad; mutual
recognition of qualifications should be promoted, especially in neighbouring countries;
iv. governments should recognise the fundamental liberty to engage in higher education
activities and to establish institutions for that purpose; such institutions should be
officially supported once their satisfactory quality has been established on a
non-discriminatory and fair basis and a genuine demand has been demonstrated;
language should not be a criteria for recognising institutions or qualifications;
v. higher education institutions should develop out-reach programmes designed to
facilitate the access of minorities, for example by collaborating more closely with
secondary education institutions;
vi. students from minority groups should have the possibility to sit entrance
examinations to higher education in their mother tongue;
vii. a system of bonuses, given in the entrance examination on the basis of language,
could be envisaged as a means of encouraging persons belonging to linguistic minorities;
viii. young persons from minority groups should, like other young people, and under the
same conditions as them, be able to receive vocational training after general basic
education and to attend education at all levels, whether or not in their mother tongue,
without any additional financial constraints;
ix. special courses in minority languages and cultures should be included in the
curricula of teacher training institutions;
x. new information and communications technologies should be used more widely as these
are well suited for the education of minority groups and of students in geographically
xi. the access of minorities to higher education, as well as their subsequent
participation in it, should be monitored on the basis of data voluntarily given by the
students and in conformity with data protection principles.
7. The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. provide expert assistance, for instance through the CC-HER and the implementation of
pilot projects, to universities and governments in countries where minorities experience
difficulties in acceding to higher education;
ii. support institutional case studies that focus on the topic of minorities in higher
education in Europe;
iii. consider the adoption of the draft recommendation on access to higher education
approved by the Council for Cultural Co-operation on 22 January 1998.
1. Assembly debate on 27 January 1998 (3rd Sitting) (see Doc. 7888,
report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mrs Isohookana Asunmaa).
Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 January 1998 (3rd Sitting).