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EU Commission has Open Call for Tenders: Study on Dropout and Completion in EU Higher Education

Although the concept of drop-out and completion rates in higher education is not new it has only comparatively recently become a focus of attention in a European policy context. Changes in policy-making context resulting from the economic crisis have brought to the fore the importance of efficient use of funds and the need for maximising all human resources to ensure economic and societal growth. As a result, policy-makers´attention has been increasingly drawn to the issue of drop-out and completion rates in European higher education. This increased attention has, in turn, called for more evidence about the current state of affairs. While there has been some evidence available, it remains dispersed and there has to date been little comparative empirical research into the root causes of drop-out and low completion rates and the availability and  effectiveness of policies and measures to counter drop-out / enhance completion rates.

The overall objective of this study is to provide a consolidated and up-to-date overview of national policies/measures on reducing drop-out and improving completion rates in higher education in Europe and to provide conclusions on the effectiveness of different systemic policies/measures, based on the experience of the countries included in the study. The study should further provide an assessment of relevance and effectiveness of indicators currently in use and make recommendations on how EU level action can support effective Member State policy-making on this topic.

EU Commission Seeks Services to Coordinate ‘European Mobility Week’

European Mobility Week is an annual campaign on sustainable urban mobility. The aim of the campaign, which runs from 16 to 22 September every year, is to encourage European local authorities to introduce and promote sustainable transport measures and to invite their citizens to try out alternatives to car use. Consistent messages, common visual identity and simultaneous participation of many cities across Europe give it a high political and media profile. In 2012 the total number of registered participants reached a 2.158 cities and towns from 39 countries, making it the largest event promoting sustainable mobility globally.

The European Mobility Week Campaign is based on a partnership between the European Coordination (three networks of local authorities), the National coordinators (representatives from national ministries and agencies), the Associated partners (European and international associations and organisations) and the European Commission.

The objectives of European Mobility Week are:

  • Raising awareness about issues related to sustainable urban mobility;
  • Encouraging a shift away from the use of private cars in cities towards more sustainable means of transport via increasing availability and convenience of alternatives (e.g. launching of new cycling lanes, new, or more frequent bus lines).
  • Creating a dialogue platform between citizens and local authorities to discuss issues related to sustainable mobility

The objective for future events is to at least maintain the participation levels in the EU-27 in comparison with 2012, with improved geographical balance and improved quality of local programmes.

In terms of desired image, the aim is to clearly communicate that EMW is

  • an event that leaves a legacy lasting beyond the actual length of the week;
  • an official EU programme, part of the Community effort on improving well-being and environmental protection.

Tenderers (in case of a joint tender the combined capacity of all tenderers and identified subcontractors) must demonstrate experience and capability necessary to provide services that are at least equivalent in nature, value and in scope to the services requested in this call for tender.

Deadline: 9 September 2013

View the ECN Procurement Notice (accessible by ECN Executive Members – Login to View)

5 Traits That Differentiate Iowa Entrepreneurs

I’ve traveled around the country, and regardless of your definition of success, or the level of success you’ve achieved there are 5 distinct characteristics that differentiate Iowa’s people from the rest of the globe.  Now this article might be a bit biased, so I want to challenge you to create your own list of characteristics that set your states or countries entrepreneurs apart.  I’m writing this though because when people think of Iowa they think of three things corn, farming, and rednecks.

Iowa does have corn don’t get me wrong, it does have farms which are slowly being demolished and turned into highways and commercial property, and it defiantly has rednecks aka entrepreneurs.  In fact there is no other state with more people who call themselves entrepreneurs then the state of Iowa.  University of Northern Iowa’s JPEC program, University of Iowa’s Henry B. Tippie School of Business, and Iowa State University’s Pappa John Center for Entrepreneurship Program emphasize the importance of building your own company.  But building a company takes time, talent, and an unwavering commitment to succeed but that’s what drives Iowa’s economy and sets Iowa’s entrepreneurs apart.

4 Dietary Habits That Help You Work Smarter and Harder

Most people are familiar with the old adage “work smarter not harder,” but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do both? You’ve probably also heard the adage “time is money.” Well, logic dictates that to make the most money in the least amount of time you need to be able to perform tasks in an intelligent manner and work with diligence and vigor.

The best way to utilize your full mental and physical potential is to develop dietary habits that will ensure you’re consuming all of the ingredients needed to maximize energy levels throughout the day:

1. Develop a Water Drinking Schedule

When you’re fully hydrated all of your bodily systems can function optimally. On the other hand when you’re dehydrated your creativity, comfort, and energy levels all suffer.  Nutritionists recommend a minimum daily water intake of about 64 ounces, or eight 8-ounce glasses per day, which is a good rule of thumb, but if you really want to treat your body like a well-maintained F-1 racecar then you’ll want to make sure you’re replenishing fluids at strategic points in your day.

  • Two in the morning– Start by taking 2 glasses in the morning – one before and/or during breakfast and the other after eating. These “starter” glasses will jumpstart your digestive system and make you feel more alert.
  • One at brunch – Threehours later drink another glass of water at around brunch time.
  • Two at lunch – Three hours after that drink two glasses of water – one before and/or during lunch and one after eating.
  • One in the afternoon – Three hours after lunch drink another glass.
  • Two at dinner – Drink one glass before and/or during dinner and the other glass afterwards.

Notes: Since you’re also consuming water in the foods you eat this schedule would actually ensure that you get more than the recommended minimum of 64 ounces, but it is better to be slightly over-hydrated than to be dehydrated. If your urine is not completely clear then you’re not getting enough water.

2. Snack on Fruits Between Tasks

Eat a piece of fruit after finishing each task or assignment, or whenever you feel your energy levels declining. Fruits contain sugars and vitamins that can be more readily absorbed and utilised than those contained in energy bars or candy bars.
The complex carbohydrates in fruit give the body storable energy that lasts much longer than the short-lived ‘boost’ you get from simple carbs found in bread, pasta, or refined sugar, which is typically followed by a “crash” that leaves you feeling miserable and tired. Furthermore, studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables increases optimism and fights depression, thereby leading to a more productive work mentality.

3. Avoid Excessive Starch and Meat During Work Hours

While starches and meats may make you feel full, giving you the impression that you’ve been nutritionally satisfied, in reality that full feeling is just an indicator of how difficult the food is to digest. If you’ve ever pigged out at a buffet before you know how tired you can get from the burden of digestion.

When you’re trying to get things done in a timely and effective manner you need all of your energy devoted to brainpower and decision-making, not the breaking down of fats, proteins, and simple carbohydrates. This is not to say that you should cut meats and starches out of your diet completely – they have their place in a balanced diet – but it is best to save the harder-to-digest foods for times when you have at least an hour to relax and digest (i.e. dinner time or an extended lunch break).

4. Trade in Coffee and Soft Drinks for Tea and Juice

The average “employee” drinks a cup or two of coffee in the morning to help themselves “wake up” and then at work they have more coffee, or any energy drink, or a soda during their break at some point in the day. Then people wonder why they feel exhausted when they come home in the evenings and have no energy left to start their own business – they’re burnt out not only because of the effort they put into working but also because they’ve been loading up on “crash and burn” stimulants. As an under-30-CEO, or an aspiring one, you’re probably not a “worker ant,” so why should you follow suit?

If you want sustained energy that offers more than an acute boost you’ll need to trade in the addictive and deleterious caffeine and high fructose corn syrup for actual vitamins and “good” sugars. And by fruit juice we’re referring to juice extracted from fresh fruit, not the conventional store-bought carton of flavored beverage loaded with refined sugars and relatively little fruit juice concentrate.

Herbal teas sweetened with honey are also excellent mood enhancers and mind revitalizers. You’ve already taken the initiative to become self-employed, so why not embark on another self-sufficiency project and maintain your own tea herb garden?

Do you already eat certain foods or maintain dietary habits that help you stay focused and productive? If so feel free to share them in the comments below. 

Ian Chase is a debt solution professional with one of the UK’s debt recovery firms. Over the years Ian has found that directors tend to ignore the effects stress can have on their physical and professional wellbeing. Here he offers sound advice on staying healthy for peak performance.

11 Perfect Entrepreneurial Vacation Spots

Describe your idea of the perfect entrepreneurial vacation.

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Surfing in the Middle of Nowhere

Part of being an entrepreneur is exploring new industires or shaking up current ones. I like to take a trip to a off the beaten getaway where I can surf or just relax where there aren’t that many tourists and there is an opportunity for me to focus, meditate and enjoy the simple life. This type of vacation gets me to recharge my batteries and look at my life and business in a different way.
– Derek CapoNext Step China

2. Gathering With Geniuses

Being an entrepreneur is about the love for learning and the love for sharing. My dream vacation is spending a few nights in a new city drinking and partying with a bunch of geniuses. Business talk is allowed, but far from serious. South by Southwest Music and Media Conference is a perfect example, and Geeks on a Plane is a dream vacation.
– Brian CurlissDeckPresenter

3. Touring Artisan Lands

In fashion, everyone talks about using artisans from South Asia in their lines, but young designers have no way of accessing those artisans. I would love to be able to go to villages in the North-West Frontier Province or to the Rajasthan desert to develop personal relationships that can lead to a wider, more fair distribution of these dying professions.
– Benish ShahVicaire NY

4. Engaging With New Communities

Vacations are not merely about relaxing. They’re about exploration, engaging with new communities and cultures and challenging and inspiring yourself. My perfect vacation would be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, soaking in the beauty of the continent and its people and touring local entrepreneurial ecosystems. I’d also like to go to AfrikaBurn or Burning Man and participate in the giving economy.
– Christopher PruijsenStartupBus Africa

5. Traveling Without Interruptions

I’d love to vacation with the smartphone turned off and a qualified individual left in charge at the business. I would take no business phone calls — just a few quick and simple check-ins. I’d spend time at a favorite destination with enough money saved on airfare, food and lodging so that the vacation can be enjoyable and interesting each and every day.
– Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

6. Finding Inspiration While Relaxing

I go on what I call innovation vacations. The purpose is to pull myself out of the day-to-day routine and think big. I pick a place of relaxation, unplug and get inspired by a wide range of books. I then plan, think and write.
– Brent

7. Golfing With My Inspirations

Golf is a distant memory at best, but my entrepreneurial dream vacation would be hitting a post-Master’s round with Pete Carroll, Jim Collins and Warren Buffett. Nothing beats passion chatter with your biggest inspirations on a beautiful green.
– Matt EhrlichmanPorch

8. Pushing Your Limits

Some of my favorite vacations are on dirt bike trails at campgrounds. It’s not always relaxing and fun, but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something big after coming back from a tough trail ride. Going on a vacation that pushes your limits and lets you accomplish something outside of business is a great ego boost.
– Jennifer DonoghOvaleye, LLC

9. Making Time for Luxury Activities

The key to a great vacation is doing luxurious activities — things that make you happy but you don’t create time for weekly. I enjoy staying in shape and sleeping, and both suffer during the work week! I also love my job and my team. The vacation part is about not opening a laptop and not creating new work, but I always want to be responsive to help my teammates and our partners.
– Aaron SchwartzModify Watches

10. Reading and Enjoying the Quiet

I always feel like I don’t have enough time to read all the books and other materials that are recommended to me as an entrepreneur. I’d love the opportunity to go away for a while and just consume some of those important ideas without an obligation to try to squeeze the effort in between my work.
– Thursday BramHyper Modern Consulting

11. Keeping in Touch No Matter Where

I always have my phone, iPad and computer with me, so I never really take a vacation from work. Why? Because I love what I do, get bored easily and always feel that I must reply to someone within 48 hours (otherwise, it’s rude).
– Trace

About the Author: theYEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

You Should Remove All Ads From Your Site

Several weeks ago, we wrote about the problem with AdSense. Then, we looked at the possibility of alternative ad platforms. Today, Megan Dougherty of Firepole Marketing shares a controversial opinion: you should do away with advertising on your website altogether. 

Getting a website is easy.

Really easy.

So easy that anyone can do it.

Maybe you build it yourself on a platform like WordPress or Joomla, or maybe you buy one ready made from a service like Flippa.


You know what isn’t easy?

Making money from a website.

Not only is it not easy – but there’s a ton of options, and for every option oodles of competing advice on how best to do it.

Most of it sucks.

It sucks in a staggering variety of ways – sometimes the advice is old, sometimes it’s ineffective, sometimes it’s unethical – really, the ways in which advice about monetization can suck never ceases to amaze me.

(Don’t get me wrong! There’s plenty of GOOD advice out there too! Like here, and here, and here, just for starters!)

My least favourite piece of advice is to dump a bunch of ads on your site and watch the money roll in from advertising fees.

That’s just stupid.

Let me tell you why.

But first…

School of Hard Knocks: Getting a Real-World Business Degree

A forewarning: I’m an entrepreneur running a successful business without any sort of business schooling. I majored in Industrial Design and Italian so you won’t find any fnacy MBA lingo here, just a straightforward real-world perspective.

Hold Your Horses

I was fortunate to have the time to let my business idea mature and evolve while I was still a student in college. I was able to explore various opportunities, research and survey the market, interview experts, and flesh out a pretty strong business plan before we were ever under pressure to turn a profit. In hindsight, this incubation period was crucial for the success we’ve had in the last three years. As soon as you launch your concept into a full-fledged business, you’ve got overhead to worry about and expenses pile up out of now where. The extra time gives you the chance to think through more scenarios, experiment with different models, and get everything in line to take your competition by surprise. Getting a startup off the ground is hard enough, and near impossible if you’re trying to figure out your model while providing and marketing your products and services. Spend as much time as possible in the nest to make sure your wings can carry you after you lunge into the wonderful abyss of entrepreneurship.

Career Crossroad: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Where your career takes you geographically is as important as your career itself. After all, as an under-30 professional, your next move might be the place where you stay long-term. That can be a great thing if you’re looking to put down roots and establish yourself in the community, but if you’re unhappy with the choice, it can make you feel tethered somewhere you don’t want to be.

Here are some suggestions for a few things you might want to consider in deciding whether you want to relocate or stay put.

1. Who?

Is it just you, or does this move involve other people? If you have a partner or family, of course you need to consider how the move would affect those relationships. Your partner’s profession might be an issue in deciding where to move – would he or she have employment options? Is it necessary for him or her to get any additional degrees? Would your partner even agree to move? If you’re not in that kind of relationship, perhaps there are other people to whom you want or need to remain close; if you have parents or siblings who need attention, whether you’re far away or not could affect their well-being. If you have children, you would want to make sure that a move won’t be detrimental to their schooling or other needs.

2. What?

What is the opportunity that you want to uproot your life to pursue? If you’re planning to relocate, do you have a prospect waiting for you, or are you hoping to find a job when you arrive? The job, itself, is a leap of faith. Certainly, you can never be sure that a job will be a good fit before you’re actually there. If you’re going to pack up your entire life and move to a new city, though, you want to be confident that the odds are in your favor that it will work out. Once you move, if the new gig doesn’t work out, you either (a) have to find a job in the new city (where you might not have many connections), or (b) pack your life again, perhaps break a lease or sell a home and re-start the relocation process back to your original (or another) city.

3. When?

When is it a good time to make a move in order to advance your career? Check the job market in the city to which you’re considering relocating. If you’re going with the hope of finding a job (as opposed to relocating for one that you’ve already accepted), try to gauge what the opportunity is in your field. If you’re a recent law school graduate and you know that three large firms in a particular city just laid off associates, now is not a good time to pursue a legal career there. You would be not only applying on your own merits, but also competing against more experienced associates who just lost jobs – not good odds.

4. Where?

Are you moving to something, or away from something? Perhaps you were born, raised and educated on the West Coast, but you’ve always wanted an East Coast experience; you’ll be thrilled to have a job in D.C., Boston or New York – you just want to move East. Or, maybe you’ve recently been let go from a job or suffered a relationship breakup and you need a change of pace… to start fresh, reinvigorate your career and your life, but it doesn’t really matter that much where you go. A little research can go a long way. Again, determining whether jobs in your field are plentiful in your chosen city is a huge factor as to whether it will be livable for you.  If you don’t have a specific destination, research your field and let that dictate where you move. Are you in a high-tech field like nanotechnology? Consider a location where there’s a nanotechnology college or research being done in the field, because that’s where the jobs are.

The 12 Step Checklist For A Successful Business Partnership

A successful business partnership has many similarities with a successful marriage. In some ways it is even more challenging to build such a partnership.

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Do you really need a partner?” If you can create a viable business without a partner you are probably well advised to take that route. It may be that a partner is essential to complement your talents, to sell to customers, to help handle the work load or to bring needed financing. In that case, you and that partner should consider together whether it will work for you both by going through the following checklist.

It is often said that you learn more from your failures than from your successes. At one time in my life I was one of two equal partners in an R&D start up, which eventually involved VC (venture capital) partners. This checklist reflects that learning experience combined with what others have set out in similar checklists.

You should consider every one of the twelve items in this list in an honest and open way with your partner before either of you commit to the partnership. The more critical elements in that real life situation are discussed in the case study that follows the checklist.

Key Partner Attributes

1. Absolute trust in each other

This is rightly set as the #1 condition since without it disaster may well occur at some time in the future. One boss I had said that this meant you would be comfortable in leaving your wallet (or handbag) for safe keeping with your partner. I think that is an excellent test of your trust. The ultimate condition here is that such trust will be durable even if circumstances go awry.

2. Complementary skills

If you both have the same skill set, then the reason for the partnership is somewhat weaker. When skills are complementary, much richer creativity is possible and you have the benefit of different points of view.

3. Compatible working habits

Nothing will sap motivation faster than feeling your partner is not pulling his/her weight. You do not need to follow the same work schedule and indeed different work schedules may give better coverage to satisfy customer needs. Each partner should feel that there is a fair division of labor.

4. Good communication

Nothing will erode that absolute trust faster than a failure to communicate important news or decisions. With modern technology and smart phones there is no excuse for not staying in touch on important issues.

An Open Letter to the Scared And Uncertain

No one said it would be easy. The whole being an entrepreneur and starting a business thing. But you knew that when you made the decision to, well, do it.

You could fail! You better have a plan B.

Maybe you should just finish up school first. It’s rough out there!

Pay your dues, put your time in, and just work your way up.

Be patient. Because good things come to people who wait.

You’ve heard it. You may have even believed it. Maybe you still do.

Plan B’s. Waiting. Paying dues. Putting time in. More waiting. Combine that useless conventional wisdom with complacency, dis-satisfaction and serve it up with a side of uncertainty and fear. It’s the perfect concoction of mojo that slowly poisons (and eventually kills) desires, ambitions, and ideas.

The thing though? You’re not conventional. You’re more inventional. And invention beats convention every time. You know that already though.