Erasmus exchange programme faces budget crisis
The Erasmus student exchange programme is facing a 90 million euro budget shortfall this year, and the European Commission fears that the situation will only worsen in 2013 without intervention by the European Parliament.
The Erasmus programme enables students in higher education to spend 3 to 12 months in another European country, to either study or do an internship at a company or other organisation.
Any student enrolled in a participating higher education institution in one of the 33 Erasmus countries (EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) is eligible to participate.
The future of the Erasmus programme
The Erasmus programme will not run out of money before the end of 2012, and up until the end of the year Erasmus grants should be paid to students who are going abroad for a study period or job placement.
However, if the 2012 EU budget shortfall is not resolved, funds from the 2013 budget will have to be used to cover the difference.
It is feared that universities and colleges faced with a continuing funding shortage will:
› either reduce the number of places they make available for the second semester of the 2012-2013 year
› or reduce the level of grants, causing many students from more disadvantaged backgrounds to be unable to participate
The programme's legacy
Over the past 25 years, the Erasmus programme has enabled almost 3 million young Europeans to study abroad. More recently, it has also supported job placements in companies abroad.
In the process, an entire generation has had the opportunity to live and work alongside people from another culture, and to develop the cultural skills and versatility essential to employability in the modern European labour market.
The threat to the programme comes at an already difficult time for students facing an increasingly challenging job market. Youth unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds is up 50 percent since the start of the crisis, and one in five young Europeans (over five million) are without a job.
You can check out the European Commission's FAQ about the Erasmus programme budget here.