The Lifelong Learning Platform supports its members and partners in the higher education sector in their fight for overcoming the administrative issues of the new Erasmus+ programme. Together, we have drawn up a statement that sets out some of the main administrative problems impacting students and educators alike as well as a number of concrete solutions to remedy these issues.
Since the beginning of the academic year, students and Higher Education Institutions across Europe have been facing enormous challenges related to their participation in the Erasmus+ programme. Problems with the selection of mobility projects and the distribution of funding to Higher Education Institutions are causing considerable confusion among students, who in many cases have still not received their Erasmus scholarships several months after the start of their exchanges. Students who are supposed to start their mobilities in the second semester are also reporting a lack of clarity on whether they will be able to receive their scholarships.
The delay in the approval of the new programme 2021-2027 is clearly the main factor behind the current situation, and many of the current challenges will hopefully not arise again in the next years of the programme cycle. However, it is fundamental to find immediate solutions to the challenges students are experiencing at this very moment. Due to its unprecedented and particular nature, the current situation requires urgent collaboration between European Institutions, National Agencies and National Authorities, as well as a significant increase in transparency and clear communication on the main sticking points. At the same time, it is important to draw lessons from the process to make sure that much needed short-term solutions are also completed by a better long-term approach regarding the change of programme cycles.
A failure to address these issues by the European Commission, National Agencies and National Authorities can result in a drastic reduction of quality in the mobility experiences of thousands of students. This could cause a tremendous setback to the prestige and trustworthiness of the Erasmus+ programme, with prospective students having increased doubts about their participation. Such a scenario would hamper disproportionally the participation of students with fewer opportunities, putting at risk the overarching objective of making the programme more inclusive.
In order to support Higher Education Institutions, students and staff, we propose considering the following solutions:
1. Mechanisms should be put in place to guarantee that students receive Erasmus scholarships on time, as the most important element to ensure real inclusivity of the programme.
2. Immediate and decisive action by National Authorities to financially support students whose mobilities have been affected by the administrative problems. This support is especially urgent in the case of Higher Education Institutions that lack the financial capacity to pre-finance grants or top-ups with their own resources without negatively affecting other programmes or policies of the institution and in the case of students with fewer opportunities.
3. Swift application of the Flexibility Clause contained in Article 4 of the Erasmus+ Annual Work programme to increase the maximum Union contribution to learning mobility. As stated in Article 4, the flexibility clause is also applicable to the actions implemented by National Agencies. An increase in the total available budget for learning mobility in Higher Education can contribute to solving many of the problems that students and Higher Education Institutions have identified, such as a reduction in the length of the mobility period or a lack of clarity in the availability of funds for the students who were awarded Erasmus mobilities for the second semester of this academic year.
4. Increased transparency and clear communication to Universities and students on the current issues and the different possibilities to solve them by the European Commission and the National Agencies. It’s vital to enable a much smoother planning of mobilities for the next year and to be clearer about the levels of funding available..
5. In a forward-looking dimension, we recommend a much more linear distribution of funding throughout the programme cycle. Decreases in mobility funding from the last year of a programme cycle to the first year of the next one are hard to justify and harm the implementation of internationalisation strategies in Higher Education Institutions.
Please find the joint statement in full here