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EU urged to go further in opening up Erasmus+ to Ukrainians


Commission asked to release more funds from mobility scheme for refugees from Ukraine’s university community

Groups representing European universities and students have called on the EU to go further in adapting the bloc’s Erasmus+ academic mobility programme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On 16 March, the European Commission said it was introducing funding opportunities through Erasmus+ to support the integration of staff and students from Ukrainian higher education institutions in Europe.

“The Erasmus+ programme is currently proving as a useful tool to support Ukrainian students and university faculty and staff, but more can be done,” said the Erasmus Student Network, European Students’ Union, European University Foundation and the Coimbra Group of Universities in a joint statement on 24 March.

Extraordinary measures called for

The groups urged the Commission to adopt new measures for the programme, saying, “There is significant funding available that could be used if certain extraordinary changes are made.”

Institutions in European countries taking part in Erasmus+ can already host staff and students from other countries through a scheme called International Credit Mobility. The groups said that by making changes to the 2019, 2020 and 2022 Erasmus+ calls, from which funds are still available, more money could be channelled to Ukraine.

“Adjustments should be made so available funding can be fully used to support Ukrainian students, faculty and staff, even if it was originally planned for different regions,” the groups said.

They also called for dedicated funding schemes to be set up for students and staff from Ukrainian universities, including international students studying in Ukraine. Such funding could cover salaries, living expenses and reskilling of faculty members, the groups said.

“A fast-track and flexible procedure should be planned to allow for recognition of [students’] current level of studies, allowing them to resume their degrees in the smoothest possible way,” the groups said.

But they also suggested that any measures should “consider the brain-drain risk”, saying it is equally important to put plans in place so that university workers can “smoothly transit back to their alma maters if and when circumstances allow”.