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Commission proposes simplified, beefed up ‘Erasmus for all’

The European Commission has proposed a more wide-ranging €19-billion programme for education funding 2014-2020 called “Erasmus for All.”

If the European Parliament and member states approve this figure, it would be an increase of 70 per cent to education funding between 2007 and 2013.

Speaking to the press in Brussels on 23 November, the education commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: “If the European Council unanimously agreed that education should be at the centre of our policy for Europe 2020, then they should give us the means to achieve this.”

The original Erasmus programme funds student exchange in Europe. Erasmus for All would merge existing programmes, such as the Lifelong Learning or Youth in Action programmes, under a single banner. From 75 activities funded in 2007-2013, the Commission proposes to fund only 11 in 2014-2020.

The programme would include three “key actions”: learning mobility (66 per cent of the budget), including funding for student and staff mobility; cooperation for innovation (26 per cent), to increase links between education and business, as well as between Europe and other regions; and policy reform (5 per cent), including the modernisation of higher education and Bologna reform.

The remaining 3 per cent of the programme’s budget would fund operating costs in national agencies.

Erasmus for All aims to enable education systems to “deliver the knowledge and skills needed in an increasingly globalised labour market”, according to the Commission.

“We are not favouring a sector over another; young people are free to do what they want with their lives. But we do need more mathematicians, more scientists and more innovation, and we will tell our young people this,” Vassiliou said.

Several programme names, such as Leonardo or Comenius, will disappear and be branded as Erasmus actions. “In setting up an integrated single programme, it makes sense to avoid multiple names and to capitalise on the popularity and awareness of the Erasmus brand,” the Commission says.