OVER the last few years, the number of people applying for the Erasmus programme in Ireland is very low compared with other EU countries. This year the programme has been cut back due to the Covid-19 pandemic however once it is safe to travel again the programme will resume in full.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said that as a nation we need to engage more in Europe and to understand different cultures and backgrounds.
The Erasmus+ programme has expanded from 11 to 32 countries and provides opportunities not just for students but for teachers, staff, trainees and volunteers to live and work in Europe. There is a plan to have almost €26.5 billion made available in the next seven years for Erasmus+, which is almost doubling the budget.
The Erasmus+ programme for the 2021-2027 period will see an inclusion of specific measures to enable more people to participate in the programme. The programme will aim to help people who previously may not have been able to afford to go on the programme or who may not have qualified for other reasons.
MEP Clune said: “Ireland does not engage sufficiently with EU educational opportunities because of geographical isolation. We need as a nation to engage more in Europe and to understand different cultures and backgrounds. Of course this year people have been unable to travel on the programme but once it returns I would urge Irish students, teachers, trainees and volunteers to engage more with the EU Erasmus programme.”
MEP Clune said the European Parliament had objected strongly to cutting funding for the Erasmus+ programme, despite Covid difficulties.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 4,500 Irish students saw their participation in the programme cut this year. In total 60,000 Irish students have travelled abroad on Erasmus+ since its foundation in 1987, while 100,000 students have travelled here to learn at Irish institutions.
MEP Clune added: “The Erasmus Programme is a fantastic initiative for young people in Ireland and across all of Europe and I am delighted to see it continue and grow. EU Feedback reports say that most people who have done an Erasmus have said that their experience has encouraged them to be more open-minded and confident in their newly-acquired skills.”