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Commission planning further Erasmus+ outreach over Covid-19

Webinar and survey among actions planned to ensure students know where they stand

The European Commission has said it is planning a range of communications activities to inform students and higher education institutions about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their participation in the EU’s Erasmus+ mobility scheme.

The moves follow a survey of participants by the Erasmus Student Network, which reported earlier this month that out of almost 20,000 student respondents, more than 8,000 (40 per cent) said they had experienced at least one major problem with their Erasmus+ participation due to the pandemic.

Of 4,664 respondents whose mobility periods had been cancelled, 65 per cent said they did not know how their grants for covering expenses incurred while travelling had been affected.

A Commission spokesperson told Research Professional News that, at the time the ESN survey was conducted, “coordinated information had not yet reached all students”. In the subsequent weeks, “information has been widely disseminated to Erasmus+ National Agencies, Higher Education Institutions and students [and] massively improved the situation”, they said.

To build on these communications, the spokesperson said the Commission is organising a webinar next week, that it recently sent a questionnaire to national agencies to gain information on the current state of affairs, and is planning a participant survey.

“With regards to the grant situation, the Commission applies maximum flexibility to make sure that students do not have to cover unforeseen costs for travel or accommodation related to their mobility,” the spokesperson said.

“The rule is that if a student has paid travel expenses linked to the planned mobility, such as a flight ticket, that could not be used and that could not be refunded, the grant covers for the travel costs—if this was part of the grant in the first place.

“If the original grant did not foresee travel costs, students are entitled to keep or receive the part of the grant that corresponds to the costs incurred. They may also be able to obtain a refund of costs for the reservation of accommodation. Here it is necessary to check this with the home institution [or] supporting organisation.”