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EU commits billions to Erasmus+ programmes

Matt Salusbury looks at the EU’s revamped mobility programmes as the official guide is published

A vote of the European Parliament in November gave the green light for the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme of grant funding for educational exchanges, and Erasmus+ cleared its final hurdle at the beginning of December when it was adopted by the Council of Ministers. The day before we went to press, the Commission published its Call for Proposals for the Erasmus+ programme and its Programme Guide for applicants – all 263 pages of it. We include in the box on this page the Programme Guide’s key points – application deadlines, criteria and eligibility.

Erasmus+, with a total budget of €14.7 billion, will start in January 2014 and last until 2020. It brings together a total of seven EU education programmes, including the ‘mobility’ programmes currently known as Comenius (for school teachers), Grundtvig (for adult education), Erasmus (for higher education) and Leonardo (vocational training).

The 2014–20 Erasmus+ programme will, according to the Commission’s Erasmus+ official website, be ‘easier to access than its predecessors, with simplified funding rules’.

Grants for individuals, especially for what’s now called ‘Key Action 1: Learning mobility of individuals’ will account for roughly two thirds of the €14.7 billion, with the remainder going to ‘transnational partnerships’ involving educational institutions. And there will be additional funding on top of that, earmarked for ‘actions with third countries’ outside the EU, with a decision on the details of this ‘probably be taken in 2014’ according to the Erasmus+ website. Early applications for an Erasmus+ project in Switzerland may get turned down, as Switzerland has yet to ratifiy a bilaterial Erasmus+ agreement with the EU.

An important change compared to the old Lifelong Learning Programme that Erasmus+ replaces is that Erasmus+ grants ‘are not offered to individual participants’, in the words of the Programme Guide. Applications for grants will have to come from organisations. There will still be training opportunities for individuals aplenty, it’s just that individuals won’t be able to apply directly for Erasmus+ funds. For example, English language teachers seeking funding for a Clil methodology course will need to apply via a ‘participating organisation’. What are these? Critieria for being a participating organisation will vary from country to country, and according to which Key Action the application’s for.

The eligibility criteria are all in the Programme Guide’s ‘Annex 1: Specific Rules and Information Relating to Mobility Activities and Strategic Partnerships’. For higher education exchanges, a participating organisation needs an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education or to form a consortium to get a Mobility Consortium Certificate.

Participating organisations for vocational and education training mobility schemes (these used to be Leonardo) need to be accredited via a European Quality Charter for Mobility. Participating organisations that were already active in Leonardo exchanges can go on a fast track to get this accreditation.

An Erasmus+ participating organisation for a ‘Mobility project for school education staff’, as Comenius is now known, has to be a ‘private or public organisation established in a Programme Country’, and in some cases these have to be consortia. The Gazette only had time for the briefest whizz through the Erasmus+ Programme Guide before we went to press, but this suggested that individual teachers will have to apply via the ‘sending school’ – the school for which they normally work.

Erasmus+ also introduces a points system for determining eligibility for some grants for some activities, including some types of individual mobility grants.

The press officer for the European Parliament Culture and Education Committee confirmed to the Gazette that the familiar names Comenius, Gruntdvig, Erasmus (for higher education exchanges) and Leonardo would remain as the names of subprogrammes within Erasmus+ for ‘branding’ purposes. The Programme Guide has a handy guide ( on page 10  ) to which of the new Key Actions the old familiar-sounding names most closely correspond to. Key Actions are explained in detail on the Erasmus+ UK website.

The deadlines for the applications under the existing Lifelong Learning Programme for Comenius and Grundtvig exchanges passed in September, and the existing Comenius-Grundtvig Training In-Service Training Database ‘will cease to operate ... on 15 June 2014’. The database will remain visible as a reference point for successful applicants. Henceforth, for the school teachers’ in-service training activities familiar to Gazette readers as the Comenius programme, ‘applications will be made under Erasmus+’ – see deadlines in the box below.

At first glance, the Programme Guide seems to be an extraordinarily clear document, breaking down into manageable steps the complicated process of application. The online application forms go live in January.

As far as the Gazette is aware, there hasn’t been any information put out yet on how course providers will be able to promote their courses on the new Erasmus+ database, but Helen Coupland, marketing and communications consultant EU at the British Council (UK national agency for Comenius and the old Erasmus higher education exchanges, and the new Youth In Action programme), reminded us that applications aren’t restricted to just the courses that appear on the Comenius/Grundtvig database, or its forthcoming successor.

Meanwhile, both Ecorys (national agency for Grundtvig and Leonardo in the UK) and the British Council and the equivalent national agencies in other EU countries are running advice sessions and producing ‘how to’ guides to Erasmus+. These will prioritise showing organisations how to submit ‘high quality’ applications for the various bits of the Erasmus+ super-programme. The UK Erasmus+ briefing sessions for the new year were all fully booked as we went to press, but all the materials for these are available here.