Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union, however, belongs to the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Since Liechtenstein, due to its small size, cannot provide a comprehensive education and school system on all levels mobility, agreements and cooperation with neighbouring countries are basic needs and necessities for the small state. Around 90% of the students in higher education pursue their studies abroad mainly Switzerland (Intercantonal University Agreement) and Austria (Agreement between the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Republic of Austria on Equivalences in the Field of Secondary School Leaving Certificates and Higher Education)
Agreements to ensure access to education programmes in neighbouring countries as well as to recognise qualifications are therefore very important for Liechtenstein. This includes a flexible grant system too.
Through the EFTA agreement there exist close relationships with Island and Norway. The most important partners due to geographical matters, common language and a traditionally close partnership are Switzerland and Austria. Already at primary and secondary level there are agreements in the field of special schools and boarding schools (e.g. sports boarding school) with these two countries.
Agreements with Switzerland:
- Collaboration through the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) and their regional conferences and multiple committees.
- Participation in the inter cantonal and regional finance and mobility agreements: These agreements allow the equal access to education institutions in Switzerland and manage the equalisation of burdens.
- Financial involvement in education institutions (ISHE, NTB, HfH, BzB).
- Involvement in the Swiss National Science Foundation.
- SInce 1974 and 1978 there exist agreements with Switzerland that manage the acknoledgment of bachalaureate diplomas that match required Swiss criteria and the admission to general and professional schools.
Agreements with Austria:
- Agreement on mutual acknowledgment of certain qualifications
- Participation in the Austrian Science Fond
- Organisation of a Liechtenstein research award at the university of Innsbruck
Participation in EU education programmes
Liechtenstein has no national mobility programmes. The small state participates in Swiss programmes and - through the EEA membership since 1995 - in EU programmes. The EU education programmes are organized since its foundation in 2007 through the Agentur für Internationale Bildungsangelegenheiten Agency for International Educational Affairs (AIBA). For the youth programmes instead the national agency AHA is responsible.
The constitution of the AIBA as an independent institution under public law is governed by the Law on the Agency for International Educational Affairs (AIBA). According to this the purpose and object of the AIBA are the following:
- Supervision of European training programmes as national agency for Liechtenstein
- Planning of international activities in the field of education
- Implementing and monitoring national, regional and international programmes to promote international mobility and cooperation in education
- Information and counselling of individuals and institutions through national collaborations, educational projects and programmes
- Promotion of professional knowledge, acquisition of social key skills, intercultural competence and language skills through the use of international networks
- Creation of transparency in the recognition of qualifications
The AIBA is currently responsible for the following programmes: Erasmus+ Education, e Twinning, Erasmus+ Youth; NQFR National Qualification Frame, EEA Grants, worldskills and Europass.