EU funding: Erasmus Mundus: “be curious and don’t hesitate”


 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through co-operation with third countries

Special visas and higher scholarships to cope deal with rising living costs are just two things MEPs on the Culture and Education Committee would like for the Erasmus Mundus student exchange course.

The report comes ahead of the second phase of the programme. Erasmus Mundus is for students from outside Europe who wish to study at its Universities and for European students to study far a field. The separate Erasmus scheme has already helped 1.5 million people study in Europe.
Since 2004 Erasmus Mundus has awarded over 4,400 scholarships for students to come to study in Europe. One of these was Belek from Kyrgyzstan who spent 6 months doing an MA in international relations at Vilnius University. He told us he was sure “it will help me find a job and make a career”.

Student visa and higher scholarship say MEPs

An important part of the programme is building Europe’s links with countries from around the world and attracting the best and brightest to Europe’s universities. However, the importance of students returning to their country is an aspect stressed by French Liberal MEP Marielle De Sarnez who acted as rapporteur for the issue. After fellow MEPs on the committee voted to support the report on 24 June she said “the aim is not to organise the brain drain, but to train future generations of emerging countries”. It will now be put before a vote of the full parliament in the autumn.

The report focuses on a number of areas where it believes practical action can help. It wants European governments to introduce a specific visa for the Erasmus Mundus students. This would greatly help them to study abroad. Equally it wants the amount of scholarships increased to reflect higher living costs. Current scholarships are €21,000 for 1 year if you are outside Europe whilst a European student gets €3,100 for 3 months.

MEPs also want the decision on whether to award a place to a student taken earlier to help with administration. Students should also be able to learn 2 foreign languages. Finally, special attention should be given to those with disabilities and those who come from poor and minority backgrounds.

Erasmus Mundus open to non-EU students

The next phase of the Erasmus Mundus programme (which has a budget of 950 million from 2009-2013) aims to get more scholarships for European students and for more interests from people from the former Yugoslav states. It also wants to improve the information available to students about the programme. Part of the appeal of Erasmus Mundus is that it is open not just to students in the 27 countries of the EU but also Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The final word must go to another Erasmus Mundus student - Mindaugas from Lithuania. He went to do a PhD at the law faculty of Kyiv University in Ukraine.

On his experiences he said that “Kiev is quite an expensive city, but I could survive with my PhD scholarship. I greatly improved my legal knowledge…met many interesting people, learned Ukrainian and improved Russian skills”. He has a word of advice to those thinking about studying abroad - “be curious and don’t hesitate”.

European Parliament

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