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On 8 December, ACA has published its policy input supporting the mid-term review of the current Erasmus+ programme and the final evaluation of the past programme. This policy input presents the key perspectives emerging from the internal consultations among ACA members – national level internationalisation agencies (many of them also acting as national agencies for Erasmus+ in the field of higher education) throughout 2023:
Erasmus+ plays an increasingly crucial role in promoting internationalisation of higher education in Europe. In recent years, it has evolved to be the prime funding mechanism for student mobility and institutional cooperation, both within Europe and internationally. By catering for the growing interest in higher education cooperation, Erasmus+ provides inclusive opportunities for European and international students and staff, significantly contributing to their personal and professional growth, as well as fundamentally supporting institutional development and innovation.
New ambitious goals were set for the past programme and further expanded through a stronger commitment to inclusion, sustainability, digitalisation and civic engagement supported by new ambitious cooperation formats such as European universities alliances, blended intensive programmes (BIPs), and the enhanced international dimension of the programme. Combined with the unique role and attractiveness of the programme, this ambition has led to significant budget pressures, as both the financial and organisational resources to deliver on all fronts have been insufficient so far.
Building on the lessons learnt from the first years of the programme, ACA members highly recommend that higher education institutions be provided with sufficient means and organisational support for the implementation of the horizontal priorities and key actions in the second half of the programme, as well as beyond.
Similarly, other stakeholders such as EUA, ESN, the Guild, and the Coimbra Group have advocated for an increased investment in Erasmus+ to match the ambition of the programme and to make it a success. The need for sufficient funding “to continue with its far-reaching impact on individuals and societies across Europe and beyond” has been stressed by MEP Milan Zver in his report on the implementation of the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027, voted by the European Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on 28 November (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2023). The importance of the adequate financial support for the related goals has also been recognised in the most recent trialogue negotiations on the EU 2024 budget ( see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2023).
Despite these calls, the Spanish Presidency of the EU initiated the revision of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027) to deliver on several political commitments and priorities without impacting national budgets at the expense of EU funded programmes such as Horizon Europe, which might be exposed to the biggest cuts (EUR 2.1 billion), as well as Erasmus+.
Considering that the implementation of the key priorities of the Erasmus+ programme has already been strained in a challenging financial context, such political decisions jeopardize the ability of higher education actors to deliver on the crucial goals of inclusion, sustainability and European citizenship education, and, thus, undermine the long-term future of the EU.
Read ACA’s full statement and the 10 recommendations to ensure an even more efficient and impactful continuation of the Erasmus+ programme. This salient topic, as well as several others, will be discussed in detail with higher education stakeholders and partners at the upcoming What’s New in Brussels seminar on 25-26 January 2023 (early bird discount expires on 10 January 2024).