Erasmus is the most successful mobility programme in the world. By the beginning of 2020, it was estimated that around 10 million students had already participated in this exchange programme since it was launched in 1987. However, according to statistics this represents only 1.7% of the European Union’s population, which means that the programme is still far from reaching its full potential. Most of EU surveys and reports carried out in the framework of European projects revealed that the reasons behind low participation are related to lower economic capacity of the majority of students and their families to support their stay abroad which results in unequitable access to quality higher education studies and to future employment opportunities. Mobility is politically desirable and HEIs all over Europe are currently faced with extremely demanding targets concerning the increase of students undertaking an international mobility experience. Universities have therefore a clear need to find the most effective strategies to be able to comply with such targets, and this implies not only financial resources but also the necessary conditions to allow for the widest possible participation of all students potentially undertaking a mobility experience abroad. The overall budget available for KA1 Mobility of individuals is normally satisfactory for universities and in general allows them to provide an effective answer to the existing demand of the academic community. The main issue, however, remains the fact that a significant number of students does not have the necessary financial support to complement the grant awarded by the Programme and to allow for the full coverage of basic expenses in the country of destination.
Keeping in mind the findings in EU Surveys that the majority of HE students are excluded from the Erasmus programme for financial reasons, the Erasmus for All Project wants to tackle the low levels of HE student participation in Erasmus mobility exchange by proposing a more economically viable scholarship scheme that will allow any HE students to spend part of their studies abroad in any of the 33 programme countries. Contributing to reducing the existing asymmetry in the EU, promoting fairness, inclusion and equity of mobility grants between individuals and among the EU economic diversity are the ultimate goals that this project wishes to pursue. In terms of concrete objectives, they are to: – Keep the topics of inclusion and equity in the policy agenda; – Build a shared understanding among key stakeholders on the desired trajectory/evolution of the Erasmus+ grant system; – Engage with policy and decision makers on resource allocation strategies that address the needs of the political goal of widening participation in mobility; – Provide relevant and in-depth input for the mid-term review of the new Erasmus+ programme. The partnership is composed by highly compromised institutions with quality mobility in the European Higher Education Area and therefore the goals of E4A are anchored in a wider vision for the future of the Erasmus programme.
The implementation of E4A will encompass the organisation of a series of activities, events and publications with policy relevance to reach the decision makers in Brussels and produce real transformation in the programme’s design, particularly concerning the funding of individual mobility at Higher Education level. Firstly, the team will conduct a mapping of other scholarship funding models to benchmark for the more advantageous examples of grant schemes. This activity will be complemented by a desk research to extract best practises of other studies in the same field and include the results of the feedback gathered during the E4A Student Social Labs – a series of local events in the partner HEIs to engage Erasmus students in voicing their needs during mobility for a reality-based and co-designed solution. These activities will culminate in the organisation of the first multiplier event: Is the new Erasmus for all? » proposals towards a more inclusive Erasmus scholarship where it will be presented the Mapping and Research Report and opening the floor for the discussions around what will be the proposal of a new scholarship calculation methodology. This second round of activities will be led by a transdisciplinary scientific working group in charge of considering multiple variables to design a more inclusive grant scheme and publish a document that gathers the methodologies used in developing this proposal. Thirdly, the organisation of a small-scale impact study will set a pilot-experiment with a sample of real Erasmus participants with similar financial conditions (economically disadvantaged), randomly selected and divided in two groups: the first will test the current Erasmus scholarship scheme and the second will test the impact and feasibility of the more inclusive scholarship calculation formula(s) developed previously. This activity will include financial support from sponsors associated to the project to assure the necessary top-ups in a more inclusive scholarship proposal. Lastly, the E4A partners will prepare a Policy Paper with recommendations based on the conclusions of all the previous activities. The partner institutions will address policy makers in a final high-level conference in Brussels: The future of Erasmus is for all! » Making participation more inclusive through a better grant mechanism to call on the need to prioritise economic inclusion as a way to increase participation in the Erasmus programme through a more equitable scholarship.
The partnership expects to publish the following documents until the end of the project lifecycle: – Mapping and Research Report – Guidelines for a more inclusive grant calculation formula – E4A Impact Study – Erasmus4All: Recommendations towards a more social and economically inclusive Erasmus scholarship | Policy Paper With the preparation of these publications it is expected to raise awareness and support from the main target group, the HE students, by having them engaging actively in the projects’ activities, voice their challenges and pressure political leaders to change. The aim is to achieve a more equitable and a fairer grant system that may provide a clear answer to the real needs of participants, and contribute to promote inclusion in HE. It is also expected the reinforcement of the reliability of the Erasmus programme label. By analysing and identifying the potential weaknesses and strengths of the current system, the E4A project is providing the programme an active quality monitoring system. The type of activities designed for this project will also allow the HE students to participate in the co-creation of the programme and feel their needs are heard, addressed and actually produce a real change. This reinforcement of the programme’s visibility in terms of quality will also contribute to increase the circulation of students and improve and facilitate equal access to the European Higher Education Area, which is one of the strategic priorities of the European Commission having as background the Bologna Process. A last outcome is the promotion of a continuous political debate, throughout the project implementation and after its completion, on inclusion. One of the project’s results being the Policy Paper including recommendations resulting from the overall project’s conclusions plays an important role to push inclusion higher in the policy agenda and produce substantial impact in the mid-term review of the Erasmus+ programme. The powerful project values, mission and goals anticipate a guarantee for sustainability in this framework, both partners as well as other European institutions beyond the partnership involved in student mobility are committed to and share the vision of a future truly democratic Erasmus programme.