Saturday

22nd Sep 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.

... or 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.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

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.

EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation

The EU Commission has received several million responses from citizens, businesses, and organisations on whether to end the daylight summertime savings. Any tangible change would take ... time.

Exclusive

Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs

Wegate.eu, which received €1.2m in EU money since its launch almost two years ago, has less than a thousand registered users - from a possible target audience of at least 10 million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us