In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the European Parliament calls for barriers that limit the reach of the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sports to be removed.
The amount of money disbursed through mobility grants is in some cases still insufficient and may lead to students who cannot afford to move to being excluded, MEPs say in a resolution adopted by 471 votes to 55 and 66 abstentions.
They call for funds assigned for inclusion measures in the Erasmus+ to be levelled up in 2023. To reach people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with specific educational or disability-related needs, more tailored funding solutions are needed, such as pre-financing, top-up grants, upfront payments and lump sums, that would help cover their needs, especially their living costs, MEPs say.
Parliament also calls for bureaucracy to be reduced and for the process of participating in Erasmus+ to be made easier to understand, as the administrative burdens in particular affect those with educational or disability needs. Persistent issues related to Erasmus+ IT tools need to be tackled as well, so as to remove access barriers for smaller organisations and older participants.
MEPs suggest introducing a “hybrid mobility” for persons with disabilities, improving the Commission’s guidelines on how to best reach learners with health problems, cultural differences, economic, geographical and social obstacles, as well as investing more in language training for applicants and targeted information campaigns.
Finally, MEPs also call for the Erasmus+ programme to be more flexible in crises, such as the current war in Ukraine, and ask that Ukrainian students receive more assistance and there should be more support for Ukraine’s higher education institutions.
The rapporteur Laurence Farreng (Renew, FR) said in the plenary debate preceding the vote:
“More than 10 million people have benefited from Erasmus+ since it was launched in 1987. During those 35 years, the programme has evolved a lot, to reflect the developments of our time”.
“However, we still hear of people with disabilities who haven’t been able to participate in Erasmus+ mobility because they weren’t helped, or of a young person who couldn’t take part in the exchange because they were short of resources. And let’s not forget all those people who think that Erasmus+ is only for higher education students, or for people who have money, or for people who live in cities – for ‘the others’. Erasmus too often is considered a European success, but it benefits only a few people. We have to change that. Each and every young person has to be able to say “Erasmus is for me”, she concluded.
The current 2021-2027 edition of Erasmus+ programme that was co-created by the European Parliament is funded almost double when compared to its predecessors, largely due to the increased ambition of reaching people who historically have had fewer opportunities to participate – such as people living with a disability, people living in poverty, in remote locations, people with a migration background, among others.