Advocates of international education are ringing alarm bells about a €90 million shortfall in the Erasmus budget. Erasmus, a European Union program, provides grants for students to study or work outside their home countries in one of 33 participating nations (the 27 member states of the European Union, plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). More than 231,000 students received grants in 2010-11 , with the average award being a modest €250 a month. The most popular destinations were Spain, France and Germany. (Note: This article has been updated to reflect the term of the award.)
European Commission officials warn that unless something changes, its debts to national agencies in the participating countries – which distribute the money to colleges and students -- will have to be paid out of next year’s budget. This means that either fewer students will be supported or smaller grants will be given. The €90 million shortfall is out of a total budget of €450 million.
“What we’re hoping is that before the end of the year, the 27 member states, and the European Parliament, will agree to make up the shortfall,” said Dennis Abbott, a European Commission spokesman for education. “We know it’s a very, very tough world out there and that many countries are having to cut back, but we just feel that they shouldn’t be cutting back on education and they shouldn’t be cutting back where commitments have been made.”