The European Parliament gave its green light on Tuesday (19 November) to the new version of the EU education programme, Erasmus+. As of 2014, Erasmus will not be only accessible to students and teachers as it was, but also to apprentices, trainees, lecturers, volunteers, youth workers and even sportsmen.
MEPs from almost all political groups voted overwhelmingly in favour of the revised Erasmus, a rare occurrence in the EP.
The mobility programme will receive a 40% budget increase for the next financial period 2014-2020, a victory made even more significant by the fact that the EU budget voted this week saw a 4% decrease compared to the previous financial period.
The overall budget for Erasmus+ is €14.7 billion for the 2014-2020 period, the objective of the programme is to send four million young Europeans aged 13 to 30 to learn in another EU country.
However, austerity measures have had an impact on the programme.
Scholarships have been reduced in favour of a loan guarantee scheme for Master’s students. This system is similar to the one in the United States, where students are granted loans under more favourable conditions in order to finance their studies abroad.
The Erasmus exchange system has existed since 1987 and is one of the rare relatively unquestioned success stories of the European Union.
Since that time, three million young European have made use of the student exchange programme in one of the member countries, which include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey, as well as the 28 member states.
Focus on apprenticeship
“There is a special focus on vocational teaching in this programme”, says Isabelle Thomas, French Socialist MEP, even though the programme is more present and more popular among university students, it will now have to gain visibility in vocational education and training.
“The money will then be allocated depending on the students’ demands”, Thomas stressed, meaning that it will be up to the governments and the states to make Erasmus+ known in technical and vocational fields.