The call for proposals ‘DIGITAL-2023-SKILLS-05: Advanced Digital Skills’ under the Digital Europe Programme, including the topic of Specialised Education programmes in Key Capacity Areas (DIGITAL-2023-SKILLS-05-SPECIALEDU) is now published on the Funding and Tenders portal. The call will be open for applications from 21 November 2023 until 21 March 2024.


The objective of this call topic is to support excellence in higher education institutions, making them world leaders in training the digital specialists of the future and to increase the capacity of the educational offer in the area of advanced digital skills. This should lead to the development of dynamic digital educational ecosystems where higher education institutions as well as innovative partners from industry and research work together to attract and retain the best talents worldwide.

Actions funded under this topic will contribute to the target of 20 million ICT specialists in the EU by 2030, as set in the Digital Decade Policy Programme. These actions will also contribute to closing the digital skills gap, as currently, the EU has a significant and systemic gap between market n


The primary objective of this call topic is to support the design and delivery of higher education programme(s), such as bachelor’s and master’s leading to a degree (at ISCED levels 6, 7 or equivalent – hereafter programmes) and to develop related selfstanding modules (online, hybrid or in-person) leading to a certification. These programme(s) and module(s) need to be co-designed jointly between higher education institutions, and industry and/or research partners in the consortium. The choice of the type(s) of programme(s) and self-standing module(s), as well as the precise curricula and the modalities is left to the consortium, provided that they all result in a degree (applicable for programme(s)) and certification (applicable for self-standing module(s)) released by the higher education institution(s). For the education programme(s) and self-standing module(s), consortia are highly encouraged to include practice-oriented components (e.g. acquisition of practical experience in a company/organisation, visits of industry facilities or research organisations, etc.).

Proposals under this topic must address the design and delivery of at least one of the following types of programmes:

1. Type 1: Programme(s) to build up advanced digital skills in one or in a combination of the following key digital areas (this list is not exhaustive, however below areas are the digital key areas that are highly encouraged):

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Blockchain
  • Cloud and/or edge computing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data
  • Extended reality
  • Internet of Things h. Microelectronics
  • Photonics
  • Quantum technologies
  • Robotics

2. Type 2: Interdisciplinary programme(s), targeting at the acquisition of advanced digital skills in specific sectors. Sectors to be addressed include (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Law
  • Media and culture
  • Manufacturing
  • Sustainable and autonomous mobility
  • Space

3. Type 3: Conversion programme(s) for students graduated from a bachelor’s programme from non-ICT fields to access specialised master’s programmes in the areas listed above in point 1.

The proposed project(s) must address at least objective 1 and one or more of objectives 2-4:

  1. Design and deliver programme(s) and self-standing module(s) that provide students with the necessary theoretical and practical advanced digital skills and knowledge to contribute to the design, deployment and use of the current and future generation of digital technologies and equip users of advanced digital technologies in non-ICT sectors with the necessary advanced digital skills;
  2. Attracting qualified teaching staff and students;
  3. Upgrading participating higher education institutions with digital solutions, equipment and infrastructure, with a special focus on interoperability of IT systems;
  4. Establishing structural and sustainable partnerships between the members of the consortium.

Outcomes and deliverables

Proposals selected for funding, depending on their chosen objectives’ coverage, will be required to demonstrate by the end of the action that:

  • The programme(s) and self-standing module(s) are offered and taught to students enrolled in all higher education institutions participating in the action (relevant for all proposals);
  • Support (financial or other) has been provided to students in order to take part in the programme(s) or in job placements/internships (relevant if objective 2 is addressed);
  • Technical equipment/digital tools have been upgraded for the delivery of the education programme(s) and self-standing module(s) (relevant if objective 3 is addressed);
  • Structural partnerships have been established among the members of the consortium (relevant if objective 4 is addressed); • A sustainability strategy has been developed and agreed by the consortium for enabling the continuity of the programme(s) and self-standing module(s) after the funded project’s lifetime (relevant for all proposals);
  • The programme(s) and self-standing module(s) are promoted (via communication and dissemination activities) and information is available on the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform (relevant for all proposals).

Targeted stakeholders

The participating consortium members should demonstrate complementary roles in the proposal and demonstrate an outstanding track record in their respective fields. The consortium is highly recommended to include at least three degree awarding higher education institutions from three different eligible countries which are part of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE).

In addition to this, it is highly recommended for consortia to include a minimum of two industry partners whose headquarters are located in two different eligible countries. The consortium is also encouraged to particularly involve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as start-ups. The consortium is also encouraged to include at least one additional independent research organisation/hub or competence/excellence centre.

Particular attention should be given to:

  • Ensuring inclusivity in Europe and help widening the specialised education offer in all Member States with a special focus on those Member States that score low in terms of advanced digital skills levels, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index;
  • Inclusion of industry partners, in particular start-ups and SMEs, but also other public or private entities that can be instrumental for the delivery of the actions requested by this call topic;
  • Close collaboration with other stakeholders that provide technical expertise and experimentation and testing facilities (e.g. with European Digital Innovation Hubs) is highly encouraged.

Type of action

Lump sums — 50% funding rate.

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