More than 312,300 student and 62,500 staff mobilities took place in 2017 between program countries, while 13,400 students and 20,600 staff travelled to or from partner countries, which can take part in certain actions under Erasmus+.
“While four in 10 students would like to engage in the Erasmus+ programme, only four out of 100 can do so”
France, Germany and Spain remain the top three sending countries for students, and Spain and Germany are joined by the UK to comprise the three most popular student destinations, as they did in 2016/17.
According to the document, the increasing number of students completing traineeships abroad, shows “how much young people appreciate this opportunity as a means to jumpstart their professional careers”.
Almost 89,000 students undertook training abroad compared to 76,000 in 2014, bringing the total number of student and recent graduate traineeships under Erasmus+ to over 300,000 over four years.
Katrina Koppel, vice-president of European Students’ Union, said despite the success of the program there are still a lot of learners who have not had access to international mobility.
“While four in 10 students would like to engage in the Erasmus+ programme, only four out of 100 can do so, as a result of financial, social and physical obstacles,” Koppel told The PIE News.
“We strongly hope that the next Erasmus regulation will aim to improve access to learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, focusing especially on students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and students with disabilities,” she added.
According to the Commission, the program is becoming more inclusive and more international, with almost 21,000 disadvantaged students and staff taking part in higher education mobility activities through the program .
Since 2014, there have been around 67,500 disadvantaged HE participants and almost 2,000 participants with special needs, according its figures.
The 34,000 students and staff receiving grants to go to and from partner countries across the world in 2016/17 marked a significant rise, from 26,000 in the previous academic year.
Funding for projects in countries like Bolivia, Guatemala and Paraguay increased in 2017, and receive 13.5% of the total grant awarded to Latin America, up from 10% in 2016.
“Promoting diversity of partner country choice among their HEIs and balancing the geographic distribution of funding remain key priorities for the national agencies,” the document explained.
“We want to continue with an even bigger and better programme under the new long-term EU budget”
An increase in funding for Erasmus+ projects with Tunisia means more than 1,135 individual grants to Tunisia students (54%) and staff (46%) was awarded in 2017, while a budget for projects with Iran, Iraq and Yemen were introduced for the first time.
“Iran was a very popular partner for program country HEIs, and a total of €1.7 million was awarded to 50 HEIs for projects with Iran,” the report noted.
“This will fund over 500 individual mobilities, of which roughly two thirds will be incoming from Iran. This budget also supported 9 projects with Iraq, which will fund close to 80 individual grants for Iraqis.”
In 2018, the EC proposed doubling the funding for Erasmus budget between 2021-2027 to €30 billion, which will make it possible to support up to 12 million people between 2021-2027 – three times as many as in the current financing period.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said at the time that it was the biggest increase for any program in the EU budget they had tabled.
The latest figures “confirm the pivotal role Erasmus+ is playing in building a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient Europe”, he said.
“We want to continue with an even bigger and better program under the new long-term EU budget to ensure that we invest more in young Europeans from an even broader range of backgrounds,” Navracsics added.
In January, the European Commission announced its contingency plans for the Erasmus+ program in case the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
Koppel added that although the ESU is happy to see the commission taking pre-emptive steps that attempt to ensure the immediate future of students in a no-deal Brexit scenario, it does however hope that “the eventual result of negotiations is more than an emergency fix”.