In an event to mark the 30 anniversary of the EU’s scholarship and education mobility programme Erasmus, and felicitate the outgoing scholars of 2017, H.E. Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India congratulated Indian students for their excellent showing. “Since 2004 Erasmus was thrown open to third countries, Indian students have been the number one beneficiaries of this scholarship” he remarked, adding that there is growing interest on both sides to expand number of Indian students. “Europe”, the Ambassador emphasised “is an excellent destination for international students on account of the high quality and wide variety of courses on offer, the richness of campus life and the proximity to Asia”.
Students of the outgoing batch as well as Erasmus scholars from previous batches were present at the function, together with education administrators and diplomats from India and the European Union.
This year, the European Union is celebrating 30 years of the Erasmus exchange programme, one of its most successful initiatives, and with it 13 years of Erasmus Mundus – now Erasmus+ – which has supported for academic exchanges between Indian and European higher education institutions.
The 1345 recipients of the Erasmus + Master’s scholarship in 2017 were chosen from over 24,000 applicants worldwide.
With over 5,300 Indian students from all parts of India having received Erasmus Mundus or Erasmus+ Masters scholarships between 2004 and 2017, India is the overall single largest beneficiary of the Programme. Moreover, numbers are rising. While India ranked second in 2016 with 62 approved scholarships for joint Master/Doctoral degrees after Brazil with 79, the number of these competitive scholarships allocated to Indian applicants in 2017 has risen by 20% to 74, representing 25% of the overall mobility flows selected for funding in the period 2008-2012 in Asia.
A significant development during this period is the increase in the percentage of women participants by 30% from 33% in 2008-2012 to 43% in 2017.
Scholarship recipients have access to host institutions in a broad selection of EU Member States, with larger economies such as Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Italy and Poland being particularly popular. While scholars acknowledge the benefit from academic and professional development, they also cite their increased awareness of the EU and intercultural competences acquired in the multicultural environment of European universities and towns as valuable outcomes. The Erasmus + programme is therefore increasingly contributing to strengthening EU-India ties.
In addition to the individual scholarships, 4 capacity building projects involving 32 Indian institutions of higher education have been awarded grants under Erasmus, adding to the 45 projects from previous years. These will not only send students in exchange programs but also allow Indian universities to strengthen their curriculum, receive technical material helpful for their students, and increase their internationalization.
Erasmus is one of the most successful programmes of the European Union. For three decades, it has been offering in particular young people opportunities to gain new experiences and broaden their horizons by going abroad. What started as a modest mobility scheme for higher education students back in 1987, with only 3,200 students in its first year, has developed over the last 30 years into a flagship programme benefiting almost 300,000 higher education students per year. At the same time, the programme has become much broader, providing opportunities for study periods and traineeships/apprenticeships for both higher education and vocational education and training,, youth exchanges, volunteering and staff exchanges in all fields of education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus+ is also more open to people from disadvantaged backgrounds than any of its predecessors.
The geographical scope of the programme has expanded from 11 countries in 1987 to 33 currently (all 28 EU Member States as well as Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
The current Erasmus+ programme, running from 2014 to 2020, has a budget of €14.7 billion and will provide opportunities for over 4 million people to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. The programme also supports transnational partnerships between education, training and youth institutions as well as actions in the area of sport to contribute to developing its European dimension and tackle major cross-border threats. Moreover, the programme promotes teaching and research activities on European integration through Jean Monnet actions.
Currently, there are 100 Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s degree programmes on offer, involving 513 institutions. Each programme is offered by a consortium of at least two higher education institutions, though most are larger.
The Erasmus Mundus/Erasmus+ programme helps developing professional and academic qualifications and skills of the scholarship holders, most of which is available to the EU’s partner countries subsequently. Around 90% of Indian scholars have returned to India.
Subject-wise, engineering has been the largest area of study (25%), followed by natural sciences (13%), and business, economics and management (10%).
Asia takes up about 25% of the Erasmus+ budget and accounts for 25% of the projects and 21% of the mobility flows. 25% of individual mobility flows in Asia are accounted for by India.
The Erasmus+ programme helps to integrate Higher Education Institutions into a network of international cooperation. Ultimately, the internationalisation of higher education leads to sharing of best practices, and the increasing harmonisation of education systems, leading to joint programmes of study and mutual recognition of degrees.
Jean Monnet Actions: Jean Monnet Actions support academic teaching and research (Chairs, Modules and Centres of Excellence), cooperation projects, conferences and publications in the field of EU studies. The establishment of postgraduate-level courses on European Union issues or organization of debates and exchanges on EU policy priorities are examples of activities that can be supported in this action. HEIs, as well as organisations and associations from all over the world can apply for Jean Monnet activities. Jean Monnet Chairs in India are held by Prof. Gulshan Sachdeva and Prof. Ummu Salma Bava of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Prof. Neeta Inamdar at Manipal University. Three teaching modules have also received support under the programme.