24th Mar 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.


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.


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 takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

Negotiators from the member states, EU Parliament and Commission reached a 'common understanding' to guarantee equal pay for equal work in the EU. They hope to reach a final agreement in June.


EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica