ESU reacts to the the public consultation on EU funds in the area of values and mobility
The European Students’ Union (ESU) calls for greater accessibility, inter-region mobility and the re-introduction of the short-term mobility scheme.
Most European countries (EU or otherwise) do not have (sufficient) support for student mobility, although current programs (e.g. Erasmus+ student mobility and work-based-learning) partly compensate for national shortcomings.
More students in mobility
The number of students in mobility across Europe must increase. Even though the goal of 20% of students being mobile by 2020 has been nearly met on average, there are vast differences between the number of mobile students across countries. The additional financial burden remains the main obstacle for mobility, as highlighted by EUROSTUDENT VI results. Furthermore, we need a regional balance in mobility. Socio-economic and institutional barriers must be overcome.
Additional support for students from marginalized groups
Additional support is needed for marginalized groups, with special attention to students with impairments (impairments include physical chronic diseases, long-standing health problems, functional limitations, mental health problems, sensory, vision or hearing impairments, learning and mobility impairments). Students with impairments make up a minuscule part of all students in Erasmus mobility despite the growing numbers of students with impairments in higher education at large.
Re-introduction of the short-term mobility programs
The second largest obstacle for students to participate in international mobility, according to EUROSTUDENT VI is separation from partner, children, and friends. We support a re-introduction of the short-term mobility programs enabling more students to participate. These programs should not be used as a way to decrease the additional financial burden, but rather as part of longer mobility programs.
Grants, not loans: ERASMUS+ masters loan scheme to be scrapped
ERASMUS+ masters loan scheme should be ceased. It does not increase the accessibility of mobility. Banks from only four countries have signed the contract with the European Investment Fund, indicating that the system is not working. Funding should be invested in support mechanisms like grants, and not financial instruments that benefit the banks more than they benefit students. The current 3.5% of the total budget allocated to the ERASMUS+ master loan scheme should be reallocated to the higher education mobility and grants in particular.
The system for determining the amount of grants related to Erasmus+ mobility needs to be re-evaluated. In many cases, the progressive grant system does not account for changes in countries’ economic situation and inflation. A system that takes into account students’ status and its relation to increased income (e.g. students with dependants) should be created.
Tenfold increase of Erasmus+ budget
To support our suggestions, the Erasmus budget must be increased to keep up with the demand and need for increased mobility within Europe. ESU supports the Erasmusx10 campaign. In addition to an upscaled budget, we call for greater measures and support functions within the budget enabling a wider and diversified group of students to be mobile.
Erasmus for all is an aging concept that has not been implemented. With greater resources, we firmly believe that greater responsibility follows. It is time to move from paper to practice.