Green light for Erasmus+: More than 4 million to get EU grants for skills and employability
Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, due to begin in January, was approved today by the European Parliament. Aimed at boosting skills, employability and supporting the modernisation of education, training and youth systems, the seven-year programme will have a budget of €14.7 billion1 - 40% higher than current levels. More than 4 million people will receive support to study, train, work or volunteer abroad, including 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, as well as more than 500 000 going on youth exchanges or volunteering abroad. Students planning a full Master's degree abroad, for which national grants or loans are seldom available, will benefit from a new loan guarantee scheme run by the European Investment Fund. Erasmus+ will also provide funding for education and training staff, youth workers and for partnerships between universities, colleges, schools, enterprises, and not-for-profit organisations.
"I am pleased that the European Parliament has adopted Erasmus+ and proud that we have been able to secure a 40% budget increase compared with our current programmes. This demonstrates the EU's commitment to education and training. Erasmus+ will also contribute to the fight against youth unemployment by giving young people the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills through experience abroad. As well as providing grants for individuals, Erasmus+ will support partnerships to help people make the transition from education to work, and reforms to modernise and improve the quality of education in Member States. This is crucial if we are to equip our young generation with the qualifications and skills they need to succeed in life," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Erasmus+ has three main targets: two-thirds of the budget is allocated to learning opportunities abroad for individuals, within the EU and beyond; the remainder will support partnerships between educational institutions, youth organisations, businesses, local and regional authorities and NGOs, as well as reforms to modernise education and training and to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability.
The new Erasmus+ programme combines all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, including the Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries). This will make it easier for applicants to understand the opportunities available, while other simplifications will also facilitate access.
Erasmus+ who benefits?
2 million higher education students will be able to study or train abroad, including 450,000 traineeships;
650 000 vocational students and apprentices will receive grants to study, train or work abroad;
800 000 school teachers, lecturers, trainers, education staff and youth workers to teach or train abroad;
200 000 Master's degree students doing a full course in another country will benefit from loan guarantees;
More than 500 000 young people will be able to volunteer abroad or participate in youth exchanges;
More than 25 000 students will receive grants for joint master's degrees, which involve studying in at least two higher education institutions abroad;
125 000 schools, vocational education and training institutions, higher and adult education institutions, youth organisations and enterprises will receive funding to set up 25 000 'strategic partnerships' to promote the exchange of experience and links with the world of work;
3 500 education institutions and enterprises will get support to create more than 300 'Knowledge Alliances' and 'Sector Skills Alliances' to boost employability, innovation and entrepreneurship;
600 partnerships in sport, including European non-profit events, will also receive funding.
Erasmus+ is being launched at a time when nearly six million young people are unemployed in the EU – with levels above 50% in Spain and Greece. At the same time, there are over 2 million vacancies, and a third of employers report difficulties in recruiting staff with the skills they need. This demonstrates a significant skills gap in Europe. Erasmus+ will address this gap by providing opportunities for people to study, train or gain experience abroad.
At the same time, the quality and relevance of Europe's education, training and youth systems will be increased through support for the professional development of education staff and youth workers and through cooperation between the worlds of education and work.
Student and apprentice mobility also boosts workers' mobility between Member States; people who have already studied or trained in another country are more likely to want to work abroad in future.
The €14.7 billion budget takes account of future estimates for inflation. Additional funds are expected to be allocated for higher education mobility and capacity building involving non-EU countries; the decision on this additional budget is not expected before 2014.
Erasmus+ includes, for the first time, a dedicated budget line for sport. It will allocate around €265 million over seven years to contribute to developing the European dimension in sport by helping to address cross-border threats such as match fixing and doping. It will also support transnational projects involving organisations in grassroots sport, promoting, for example, good governance, social inclusion, dual careers and physical activity for all.
The proposal was adopted today by the European Parliament. Adoption by the Council (Member States) is expected within the next month. The Erasmus+ programme will start in January 2014.