2013/12/15

Erasmus Today - Erasmus Tomorrow

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Throughout most of 2013 European students worried about what will happen with most of the European projects concerning professional development. The best known of them – though certainly not the only one – was Erasmus that offered a wide array of interesting, usually paid internships. Its future – as well as the ones of Comenius, Grundtvig, Tempus, Alfa, EduLink and so on – looked grim, though. Their case was discussed over and over again by media, provoking such famous slips from representatives of European Parlament Commitee on Budgets as „Erasmus is not broke, it is just in the same financial situation as European Union”

Not so long ago, decisions concerning all of the aforementioned programmes were taken. Shall we rejoice or despair?

The more the merrier!

 
Personally I would rather rejoice. Yes, Comenius, da Vinci and Grundtvig ceased to exist. Hell, even Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus were dissolved! Something else came into existence, though – Erasmus+ also known as “Erasmus for all”.

Consolidation is an old and proven tool used for rescuing groups of organizations with similar aims. We have to keep in mind that those programmes were supposed to not only offer internships to students (Erasmus), but also help grown-up employees improve their competences (Grundtvig) or even help the unemployed find a job, educating instructors at the same time (Leonardo). The new program will try to fulfill aims of all its predecessors.

The proverbial icing on the cake is the fact that the budget for all those aims was increased by seventy percent. This will allow a million people yearly to leave for internships and trainings abroad. Considering that as for now it used to be 600 thousand people yearly, and that Erasmus+ will be taking place in years 2014-2020, the trend is clearly visible.

What will it be?

 
Still, since the parts of European internship machinery change, the way it works has to change as well. The aims of new programme are not to simply give chances of gaining experience and visiting foreign countries. It strives to – above all – teach innovativity and initiative. What used to be all Erasmus took care off – co-financing educational journeys throughout Europe for students, employees and unemployed – is now one-third of the entire programme.

The second part is “backing up the projects of cooperation”. What it means is encouraging universities, companies and local authorities to cooperate with their opposite numbers from other countries. This is probably the most visible influence of zeitgeist in those changes. It is not enough to send someone to a place where something is being done properly – now the organizers try to make everybody improve themselves to be as good as the best of them.

“Political encouragement”, the last of the ideas behind new Erasmus is supposed to encourage countries of UE to introduce reforms concerning the systems of education and make getting a job easier. Moreover, UE is about to back up researches concerning European integration. Their aim is noble – let us hope that the combined strength of “constitutive organizations” of E+ will be enough to make a difference.

All of the above are supposed to create possibilities for students, trainees, youngsters, teachers and people working with youths. European Commitee hopes that the new programme will help them develop themselves and improve their chances on work market.

The remains

 
Seeing all those changes incoming, participants of former projects organized by Erasmus or one of other organizations can feel justifiable fear. What will happen to them? Well – good news incoming. Acording to recently published leaflet responding to most often asked questions (http://www.leonardo.org.uk/core/core_picker/download.asp?id=1517) all those projects will keep working. Possible changes will be introduced gradually, and all the interested will receive messages explaining their new responsibilities and – possibly – appropriate deadlines.

Isn't it too good to be true?

 
Luckily our world is also inhabited by skeptics that try to pierce bubbles of optimism that could carry us too far away. What is strange, though, is that in this case they are not protesting too much/
Still – one of the problems not introduced in official information is the creation of another paneuropean Moloch. Up until now all those programmes had their own responsibilities, modus operandi and ways to contact them. Now, when all those – far from small – organizations combined, we have received a colossus that could do a lot but in order to communicate with him you have to climb up to his ear.

There were also protest coming from students from Spain, although their actions were limited to Internet. The protestors admit that their anger was caused by many recent budget cuts concerning them, but the Erasmus case was the catalyst here. What made them angry is that the small stipend that every Erasmus participant received will now only be admitted to those less well off. It clearly shows us the way those changes tread – slightly less, but wider, for more people.

Whether this is a good or a bad thing – you decide.
Author - Piotr Matyjaszczyk
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