By Gary Patterson
The European student exchange programme ERASMUS has had a breath of new life as the popular programme was recently renewed with increased funding under a wider scope by the European Parliament.
Members of the European Parliament voted through the new plans as part of its youth and education work in the European budget. The new proposals will increase the number of ERASMUS opportunities to five million young people across the European Union, widen the financial support available to undergrad and postgrad students, and increase the scope of ERASMUS to encompass Higher and Further Education exchanges alongside other opportunities for young people.
Commenting on the changes Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon said:
“The Erasmus programme has demonstrated that it makes a real difference to young people’s employability. Erasmus offers students a unique opportunity to improve their foreign language skills, gain confidence by travelling abroad independently, and make friends across Europe.
“Although it is good to see that the number of Scottish students going on Erasmus has risen in recent years, we still lag way behind most other EU countries. Over the past 5 years, we have seen over 5000 Scots take advantage of the opportunities offered by Erasmus, and we’d hope to see the numbers increase dramatically with this new programme.”
Chairperson of the European Students Union Rok Primozic said, “We believe that the big majority of votes that were cast in favour of the proposal show an important level of commitment from the European Parliament to higher education and student mobility throughout Europe. We also welcome the increased funds for Erasmus+, when compared to the previous programmes for education and youth. We think the programme is a very positive achievement, especially in light of the overall decrease of the EU budget for the next multiannual financial framework,”
However Primozic also raised concerns of cuts to local funding such as that in Spain where many students rely on national funding to take part in the exchange scheme. He said:
“We have seen lately that some of the member states, such as Spain, have been cutting additional funds that were meant to enhance a wide-ranging student mobility. We sincerely hope that this will not happen again.”
SNP MEP Alyn Smith commented on the changes: “I’m delighted by this; I was lucky enough to be an Erasmus student in Heidelberg in Germany way back in 1992 and it’s given me a lot of benefits. Now the programme will receive one of the largest funding increases in the EU’s next long-term budget, which is part of an effort to counter the rising tide of young unemployed.
“Erasmus+ brings together all the existing education and training programmes as well as the Youth in Action Programme, and adds sport, for the first time. People from 13 to 30 will be able to study abroad or get a traineeship or apprenticeship. They will also be able to teach or gain professional experience in another EU country.
“I hope Erasmus+ will encourage more Scots to go abroad to learn new skills and learn about other culture, improve their job prospects and broaden their horizons. Of all the EU programmes, Erasmus adds the most value.”
Strathclyde students can take part in a number of European exchange opportunities through agreements across different faculties – more information can be found at the Recruitment and International Office or online.
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