Published on October 27th, 2012 | by Ivan Martin0
European Commission: Erasmus funding may be at risk
The number of Erasmus study exchange placements available may be reduced if budgetary arrears are not quelled, the European Commission said this week.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso warned that austere measures may be necessary for the restructuring of educational funds.
“The Erasmus programme needs an additional 90 million euros and risks having to substantially reduce the number of places offered to students or to cut the level of grants; this will obviously hit students from disadvantaged backgrounds the hardest,” he said.
Barroso added that similar cuts would have to be made to research programmes and NGO funding incentives.
Last Tuesday, the Commission urged the European Parliament to “bridge a 9 billion euro shortfall in the 2012 EU budget”. If this request is denied, several funding programmes will be deemed ‘high risk’.
The Council of Europe however put to rest growing rumours that the Erasmus fund will run dry before the end of this year.
“The European Commission has transferred 70% of Erasmus funding for 2012-13 to the national agencies in the participating countries…during the current semester, up to the current year, there should be no problem in paying Erasmus grants to students who are going abroad for a study period or job placement,” it said.
Speaking to insiteronline.com, an Education Ministry spokesman said an additional 700,000 euros had in fact been transferred into the Lifelong Learning programme budget. This came after a vote in the European Parliament to ensure the Erasmus programme remains afloat and available in all member states.
KSU international coordinator Albert Camilleri said he had been in contact with the European Student Union and the university’s international office regarding the matter. “I have been assured that most second semester funding is already in place,” he said.
Robert Debono, the EU Programmes Agency’s national coordinator, insisted that if the EU does not fulfil its funding obligations, the government will “fill the gaps” through directives and local schemes.
Meanwhile, the Maltese branch of international organisation Erasmus Students’ Network said cutbacks in Erasmus funding are unacceptable.
“The economic crisis is no excuse to cut back on education. The Erasmus programme is now a fundamental part of the single market. Going back is not an option.”
Read the Commission’s full statement here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1137_en.htm