Universities called for “extraordinary changes” to be made to the Erasmus+ program in order to open up “significant funding” for students, faculty and staff affected by the war, in a joint statement released last week by the Erasmus Student Network, European Students´ Union, European University Foundation and the Coimbra Group of Universities.
The proposal follows the European Commission’s commitment to grant “the greatest flexibility possible” to support Ukrainian students and higher education staff, including the “flexible use” of Erasmus+ funding, an announcement welcomed by the group.
In the statement, representatives propose the use of international credit mobilities, also known as KA107, to do this, asking the commission to allow higher education institutions to allocate all unused KA107 funds to support Ukrainian students “regardless of whether they were initially allocated” for this purpose.
“Students and scientists might be less inclined to go back to Ukraine if the local higher education system is heavily affected by the war”
But the group warns that it is “equally important” to help Ukrainians “smoothly transit back… if and when circumstances allow”, noting that “young people and a robust academic community are critical for rebuilding countries after the war”.
A spokesperson from the Coimbra Group told The PIE News that “students and scientists might be less inclined to go back to Ukraine if the local higher education system is heavily affected by the war”.
“Depending on how Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine develops, returning to the country might be linked with a need to work under challenging conditions,” the spokesperson said. “It will consume time and financial resources to rebuild the higher education system affected by the war.”
In the statement, university representatives also propose the creation of a “new, temporary and specific funding line to support Ukrainian students”, including support for international students who were studying in Ukraine.
It also calls for online language courses to be made available to Ukrainian students and for the commission to start the process of bringing Ukraine into the Erasmus+ program.