BIALYSTOK – The European Students’ Union (ESU) strongly supports the Polish EU Presidency in its quest for a widening of the popular Erasmus scheme. Speaking at the ministerial meeting ‘Go East, Erasmus!’ from the Polish EU Presidency, in Bialystok on 28 September, Allan Päll, ESU’s Chairperson said: “Where would Europe be without Erasmus? We are confident that the current Erasmus generation will create more integration and understanding in Europe as this group has, in an early stage in their lives, had the change to study and be friends with fellow Europeans and experience another culture.”
He added: “The Polish proposal to include Eastern Partnership countries to the planned Education Europe programme is absolutely the right thing to do. It promotes equality and true partnership of countries, students and the academic community.”
On the EU package to support the Arab spring, released on 27 September, Päll said: "We are very happy with the ‘SPRING’ programme putting emphasis on higher education which supports democratic development in the Arab region." However, ESU fears that Erasmus Mundus, the main focus of the education part of the SPRING package, will be too elite driven and too much focused on the attractiveness of Europe, which could contribute to brain drain in this region.
Since the start of the programme, in 1987, almost 2.2 million students used the Erasmus scheme, in which more than 4,000 higher education institutions from 31 countries participate and the European Commission expects this number to be 3 million by 2013. Learning mobility is heavily supported by ESU as it fundamentally contributes to personal development by allowing to study at another university in another country. Moreover, international experience provides competences needed by both society and the labour market such as cultural awareness, language skills and other transversal competencies.
According to ESU, there are still a number of financial and other administrative obstacles, which are causing inequalities in mobility. Some countries support many more students to go study abroad than others and moreover, not every university programme is compatible EU-wide - creating delays due to lack of recognition and causing additional financial cost for students. ESU calls for centralised EU support for European students and for improving quality of the programmes.
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Published: 28 September 2011
For more information, please contact:
Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson: +32/479.591.499 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 or email@example.com
Annex: Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson’s speech at the ministerial meeting ‘Go East, Erasmus!’ from the Polish EU Presidency in Bialystok on 28 September.