19th Nov 2019

EU plans to increase Erasmus grants

  • Spain is still the most popular destination for Erasmus students (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission is considering giving more money to students participating in the Erasmus student exchange programme, a move expected to increase the number of people taking part in the scheme.

"After a long and steady decline, the average grant rose for the first time to €140 per month of community funding in 2004/2005. And there will be further increases this year," said education commissioner Jan Figel on Thursday (22 June).

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At the moment Erasmus students receive an average sum of €160 a month and generally fund their studies with other forms of income such as bank loans.

A commission spokesperson said that Brussels is aiming to gradually increase the grant to €200 a month until 2013, but admitted that it is less than the original sum (€250) that the commission had wanted.

Education was one of the areas that saw money chopped almost by half when member states were negotiating the EU's budget for the next seven years.

The commission has asked for €6 billion for its lifelong learning programme, which includes the Erasmus programme, but it came out with €3.1 billion in the end.

The new increase in grants is expected to be adopted in October.

Although the grant increase is relatively small, the commission is aiming to increase the number of students participating in Erasmus in the coming years.

During the academic year 2004/5, the number of students participating in Erasmus was over 144,000, an increase of 6.2 percent on the previous year.

The commission estimates that if it is to reach its 3 million target by 2012, around 250,000 students would need to be using the programme each year.

Last year Spain remained the most popular destination for students, with 25,551 students going to the country. France and Germany were also popular taking on 20,519 and 17,273 students respectively.

Germany was the preferred destination for teachers participating in the Erasmus exchanges, hosting some 2,623 teachers.

EU-US cooperation agreement

Meanwhile, on Wednesday (21 June) the EU signed a new eight-year education agreement with the US, which like Erasmus encourages student mobility.

The agreement targets the higher education sector and vocational training and aims to have 6,000 citizens from the EU member states and the US participating by 2013.

"[The agreement] will offer our students the opportunity to study on the other side of the Atlantic. Such invaluable experiences contribute greatly to relations between our citizens," said external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

The agreement also includes the Schumann-Fulbright programme, which provides scholarships to highly qualified professionals to study on the other side of the Atlantic.


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