The Establishment of the EMPA Network

The EMPA Consortium was established in 1990-1991 as one of the first pioneering exchange frameworks for master students in public administration, originally supported by the EC-Erasmus bureau.

In the first quinquennium of its existence, the EMPA network consisted of the following partner universities: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Department of
Public Administration (The Netherlands); Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, Department of Public Administration (The Netherlands); Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften in Speyer (Germany); University of London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Government (UK); University of Oxford, Nuffield College (UK); and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).

Students enrolled in the programs of their home institutions, and took one semester abroad at a network institution, where they were fully integrated in the hosting program. The EMPA exchange program was finalized with a joint dissertation defense, during which all the students were pooled at one single place and examined by an international dissertation jury, consisting of representatives of the network partners. Students who successfully completed course work and exams at the home and partner institution, as well as the dissertation, received an EMPA diploma from the university of enrollment, supplemented by an EMPA certificate signed by the participating institutions.

The different partner programs were designed according to the standards agreed within the EMPA network. To guarantee the consistency of the different programs, guidelines were set with regard to:

  • core course curricula;
  • transferable credits;
  • minimum course work requirements;
  • annual exchange matrix;
  • standards for student entry.

Besides these criteria, every member program obviously needed to include core courses dealing with public administration, public policy and public management, which were supposed to incorporate a focus towards the local, regional, national and European level and to include a comparative perspective.

With regard to the teaching language, the non-English speaking institutions chose different pathways. The Leuven Department of Political Sciences, for example, created a curriculum with master courses in English. Yet, other non-English speaking universities (e.g. Sciences Po Paris and the Deutsche Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer) preferred continuing classes in their native language, which contributed to representing the language diversity within Europe.

EMPA partner universities committed themselves to keep exchanges free of additional charge for students who were duly registered at their home university; a principle which is still prevailing.