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Erasmus for all

Erasmus Student Network (ESN)
European University Foundation - Campus Europae (EUF-CE)

input and concern regarding the proposal “ERASMUS for all” 2014 – 2020

ESN and EUF-CE are participating and supporting the 30 stakeholders’ proposals to improve the draft regulation ”Erasmus for all” published in March 2012. In addition, both organisations believe that European citizenship, soft skills and transversal key competences are at the basis of the Erasmus programme. Both organisations present below specific statements regarding the learning mobility of higher education students:

1.    Awarded grants to the final beneficiaries
ESN and EUF-CE welcome the overall increased budget for the new “ERASMUS for all” programme. It remains however a concern that thethat final beneficiaries of the programmes, namely the students in our case, will continue to receive at least an equivalent amount of grant and rather more and not less in the future. As it is already stated in points 2 and 4, there has been a challenge of social selectivity in the past for the ERASMUS programme, appropriate solutions and at least equivalent or superior funding for students can address those challenges.

2.    Availability of mobility grants per cycle of study
ESN and EUF-CE welcome the increase of the budget dedicated to learning mobility of higher education students and also believe that the loan scheme might contribute to the increase of learning mobility in Europe. So far the loan scheme regulations are however not clearly defined and ESN and EUF-CE are pointing out the fact that such a loan scheme must only be provided in addition to the individual student mobility grants and never replace them. It is also crucial that mobility grants are available for each cycle of study so as to enable students to take advantage of mobility windows both at BA, MA and PhD level.

3.    Actions for improving the social dimension of ERASMUS
The social selectivity has been a challenge in the ERASMUS mobility for studies, as students with lower income are under represented among the mobile students. It is highly recommended to introduce “social criteria” in the attribution of ERASMUS grants, allowing students with low income to benefit from student mobility periods without being afraid of not having enough financial resources.

4.    ERASMUS Intensive Language Courses
One of the main achievements of the ERASMUS mobility opportunities is to increase language skills of students when going abroad. These improvements have been supported by the ERASMUS Intensive Language Courses. ESN and EUF-CE are highly concerned seeing that the funding through the ERASMUS Intensive Language Courses is not clearly defined in the new programme. Indeed, the development of true language policies in Higher Education Institutions is partly based on the funding proposed by the European Commission. The new proposal should however take into consideration failures of past language learning courses (no preparation prior to departure, which could be done via online modules and longer intensive language courses at the host university, e.g. with 6 hours a day for 6 weeks).

5.    Introduce the possibility of combining studying and working while benefiting from a mobility period.
Studying and working at the same time is a reality, about 50% of all European students combine studying and working (Source: Eurostudent 2011) and this for different reasons; most of them for financial reasons. When going abroad a working student would be forced to leave his/her job and cause a loss of income, which is not compensated by the ERASMUS grant. This is logically refraining working students from going abroad. ESN and EUF-CE recommend thus to allow the combination at the same time of an ERASMUS mobility for placement (part-time work placement) and for studies with an increased grant. This would allow a combined social, academic and professional integration in the host country and additionally reach out students who do not see benefits of only going abroad for study mobility.

6.    Provision of information and academic recognition
ESN and EUF-CE believe that the quality of information provided for the Erasmus exchange and the level of the recognition of courses studied abroad during an exchange must be increased in the new “Erasmus for All” programme.

7.    Support to European associations
Improve the support to European Associations accompanying the Erasmus programme, as the European Parliament suggested in its study “Improving the participation in the Erasmus programme” (July 2010) to ‘’strengthen and professionalise student bodies such as the Erasmus Student Network’’ in order to improve the image of Erasmus, this may be done through the official inclusion of ESN into the new programme “Erasmus for All”.

8.    Mobility with 3rd countries
ESN and EUF-CE welcome the possibility of establishing mobility flows to 3rd countries, which are supported by student mobility grant. ESN and EUF-CE recommend that those student mobility flows are treated in the same way as the classical “ERASMUS mobility for studies” flows and may take place at all cycle of studies.

9.    Remove the remaining visa obstacles
Visas are a remaining obstacle for student mobility of non EU-national students. While EU nationals can travel and reside relatively freely within the EU, the EU’s visa requirements are very costly in terms of time, money and effort for non-EU students. To achieve the ambitious goals set out in Erasmus for All, this problem must be addressed as well.

10.    Double/joint degree master student eligibility for the loan scheme
The renewal of the ERASMUS Mundus experience through the support to joint degree mobility opportunities is a very good step forward. However students undertaking other double/joint degrees programmes are neither eligible for Erasmus nor for Erasmus Mundus grants; this shortfall should be addressed, at least by ensuring their eligibility vis-à-vis the upcoming European loan scheme.

11.    Non-formal education
ESN and EUF-CE take a note of inclusion of youth non-formal education programmes in the EC proposal “Erasmus for All”.  As providers of non-formal education, we would like to stress the importance of maintaining support to the NFE. Non-formal education is a great provider of diverse social skills to complement the formal learning experiences, and its role in reaching out to young people left out of the formal education system shall not be undermined. Through its initiatives, the Commission should support youth and student organizations as the providers of non-formal education in their efforts to make education and mobility accessible for all young people.

12.    Consultation and implementation of Erasmus for all
 ESN and EUF-CE as key social partners at student exchange also call for sustainable support for European Associations and inclusion of social partners in further consultations and implementation of the “Erasmus for All” programme.

EUF-CE and ESN position paper in PDF
30 Stakeholders' proposals to improve the draft regulation "Erasmus for all"
Civil society organisations in danger, by EUCIS-LLL
Draft regulation "Erasmus for all"