Students and higher education institutions in several countries are reporting problems with the allocation of mobility grants under the new generation of the Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027).
While the launch of the programme promised a steep increase in funding to support student mobility, Key Action 1 funding in 2021 (€705 million) is lower than in the final years of the previous programme (€942 million in 2020; €922 million in 2019). This is due to the general approach taken in Erasmus+, in which annual budgets are augmented from year to year. However, even the 2022 mobility budget (€971 million EUR) is only slightly higher than that of 2020.
Problems are more severe in some Erasmus+ programme countries. In addition to smaller budgets than in previous years, there are reports of delayed payments, requiring higher education institutions to advance mobility funding. These issues are partially due to the delayed formal adoption of the programme at the European level, and partially to how smoothly the national agencies have been able to allocate funding for 2021, and to reallocate unused 2020 budgets. The latter is not without complexities, as 2020 rules apply. Thus, some of the top-ups that the new programme offers, for instance to disadvantaged learners and for green modes of travel, are not available for the students who are mobile on 2020 funds.
The Erasmus+ coalition has issued a statement on these issues, calling for swift action.
EUA, as part of the coalition, would like to underline the importance of students receiving their grants in good time. EUA also strongly supports spreading funding evenly across the years of a programme generation. This would have saved students in 2021 from competing for a considerably lower number of grants than those in the last years of the previous programme generation.
A steadier and more predictable budget allocation could also ease the work of national agencies and higher education institutions, helping them to better cope with student expectations and workload. Generally speaking, starting small and enhancing annual budgets over the years can indeed make sense for new initiatives, which still have to prove themselves in practice. But there is no such benefit for the well-established Erasmus+ key actions, such as mobility.