Wednesday, 23 August 2017: In an event to mark the 30th anniversary of the EU's scholarship and education mobility programme Erasmus, and felicitate the outgoing scholars of 2017 and to celebrate the reaching of more than 5000 alumni, 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.
To mark this anniversary, today we celebrate students (about 150 Indian students are about to go to Europe under the latest EU-financed batch of Erasmus scholarships) we celebrate alumni (in 2017 we are passing the cap of 5000 Indian alumni of Erasmus programs), we celebrate universities (about 50 new Indian universities are involved in recently awarded EU-financed cooperation projects with European universities) and we celebrate researchers scholars and eminent professors (with 5 Indian professors having received prestigious Jean Monnet grants for EU studies) and overall, we celebrate EU India cooperation for higher education, especially as India is the overall single largest beneficiary of the Erasmus program outside of Europe.
Scholarship recipients have access to host institutions in all EU Member States and program countries, whether traditional destination countries such as UK France Germany Spain and Italy to lesser known destinations such as Czechia Finland or Romania and even smaller countries with a few great universities who increasingly attract Indian students such as Lithuania or Cyprus. All have something different to offer to Indian students, including full programs taught in English. 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. Also, the EU scholarships do not create a "brain drain" and 90% of our alumni have returned home in India and do participate to India's development.
On top of these thousands of alumni financed by the EU, whether with Erasmus+ or Marie Slodowska Curie for research, more thousands of Indian students are financed by scholarships programs of the individual EU Member States, and even more go to study in Europe on other kinds of education financing or self-financed. Actually we have estimated that Europe at large receives almost 50000 students from India every year. So if you take Europe at large and not only individual Member States, Europe is the 2nd preferred destination of Indian students who want to study abroad. Together we 2nd after the US and about ex eaquo with Australia.
For the Joint Master & Joint Doctoral degrees Erasmus+ scholarships (a very selective competition for about 1400 scholarships with 24000 candidates worldwide) Indian students came second after Brazil in the ranking of countries of origin, with a rise of 20% as compared as last year. In the period 2008-2012, Indian students won 25% of the overall mobility flows selected for funding in Asia, proving the excellence of Indian students. Another significant development during this period is the increase in the percentage of women participants from about 30% in 2008-2012 to 43% in 2017
But Erasmus is not only about students exchange, it is also about cooperation between Indian and European Universities: This year, 10 new Joint Master Programs between Indian and European universities were just awarded. Together with existing Joint Master programs, these will send between 80 and 100 master students annually to Europe. Also, 32 Indian universities involved in 4 new capacity building projects between Indian and European universities were just awarded. There were already 45 from previous years involving many European countries. 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, better monitor the quality of the higher education they provide, and increase their internationalization. Finally, This year we have awarded 5 Jean Monnet actions for eminent Indian professors who have proven their excellency in teaching European Studies, against 2 last year, so this is a major achievement for India.
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.
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. Subject-wise, engineering has been the largest area of study (25%), followed by natural sciences (13%), and business, economics and management (10%).
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 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.
30th anniversary of Erasmus: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-83_en.htm; https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/anniversary_en