Monday

16th Jul 2018

Poor students lose out in EU Erasmus scheme

Twenty years after the EU launched its student exchange programme Erasmus, the poorest students still find it difficult to take part in it. Meanwhile, participants from the new member states benefit much more in terms of better jobs than their west European counterparts.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday (7 December) formally triggered a series of events to mark the next year's anniversary of what is widely considered as one of the most successful projects of the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Speaking to journalists and a group of international students currently taking their semester at some of the Belgium's universities, Mr Barroso pointed out that while the idea of studying abroad dated back to the Middle Ages, Erasmus has made it possible for more than just elites.

"These students are the best ambassadors of our European Union," he said, followed by students' applause - quite an unusual sound in the commission's press headquarters.

But education commissioner Jan Figel stressed that "the Erasmus grant remains far too low to allow students from less favourable financial backgrounds to enjoy its benefits."

According to a report conducted by the commission, the last year's average grant to participate in Erasmus was €140 per month while the students' additional expense varied strongly depending on whether the student still lived with their parents at home or not.

"The proportion of students from considerably lower than average income families are disproportionately represented amongst the students who considered their financial situation poor during their Erasmus period," concluded the report.

The Erasmus programme was introduced in June 1987, with over 3,200 students participating in its first year. The number had risen to almost 150,000 students from 31 countries last year - altogether 1 percent of Europe's students.

The EU's goal is to boost that figure further - up to 3 million by 2012, with commissioner Figel stressing that in order to boost numbers and improve chances for poorer students, the member states should contribute - by both extra funds and PR for the exchange programme.

Study abroad no longer key advantage

According to the commission's survey, Erasmus students currently start seeking their first job later and it takes them less time than in the past - four months in average - but their study abroad has less of a positive impact for being hired than in early years of the exchange programme.

"The more international components of employment and work become common and the more students acquire international competences, the less pronounced is the professional value of Erasmus," concluded the report.

Its authors also pointed out students from the new member states benefit "substantially" more in terms of professional follow-up thanks to Erasmus experience than their west European counterparts.

Commissioner Figel added that there are also still far more outgoing students from these countries than those coming to study in central and eastern European universities from the West.

Spain and Italy dominate on the list of twenty most attractive destinations for European students, with only Berlin (15th), Sweden's Lund (16th) and Vienna (19th) slipping through to the list of most wanted.

Focus

EU student scheme reaches 3mn mark

The EU's student exchange scheme, Erasmus has reached its 3 millionth participant since the programme was set up decades ago.

Focus

Students should vote for pro-Erasmus MEPs

Students in the EU who love Erasmus should vote twice: once for their party, and once for the MEPs in their party who support the exchange scheme.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Opinion

EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'

The subject is mandatory by law in some form in nearly all EU countries - but it is mostly reproduction- and biology-centred, covering topics such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  2. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  3. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  4. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  5. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  6. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  7. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit
  8. Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us