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Erasmus+ awards £78m to UK projects in first year

The first year of the new Erasmus+ European Union programme has seen £78 million awarded to 818 UK projects, many of which support students or staff who wish to spend time studying or working overseas.

The first release of statistics for the new programme, at a conference held on November 27 at Aston University, show that just over a half (52 per cent) of organisations that applied for funding were successful.

In all there were 1,576 applications received from organisations across the Erasmus+ sectors of higher education, vocational education and training, schools, adult education and youth. Of the 818 successful applications, higher education accounted for 171.

The total value of applications was €205 million (£163 million) - almost €90 million more than the funding available. Applications for young people or staff to study, volunteer or train abroad accounted for around half of the total applications value.

Ruth Sinclair-Jones, Director of the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, said of the awards: “This has been an encouraging start to the new programme and I congratulate everyone who has been successful so far.

“What has been especially pleasing to see is the high number of projects that cut across the sectors, for example higher education institutions working with further education colleges. There were 75 cross-sector applications. The new programme places greater importance on integrated working than previously.”

Delegates heard that there had been a good spread of successful applications from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Grant payment and IT issues

They also heard that as a completely new programme, offered across 28 EU countries and beyond, there had been some issues involving grant payments and IT, but that these were being addressed as the programme looks to its second year.

Ms Sinclair-Jones added: “The programme has learning and development at its heart and for all the partners involved, including ourselves as the National Agency, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as the National Authority and the European Union as the Executive Agency, we need to acknowledge that we have also had to learn this year on how best to deliver the funding in line with the programme’s aims and processes.

“We have made huge strides this year in setting up a new team, across a formal partnership between the British Council and Ecorys as the National Agency in the UK, establishing new joint processes, working with a new European Commission IT system and overcoming delays, communicating the benefits and encouraging applications by explaining this large and often complex programme to the organisations, young people, students and staff who will benefit from it.

“This year then has been a year of transition and we know from experience that change is not always easy. We therefore thank all the organisations, who have worked so hard with us, for their tenacity and continued enthusiasm for the programme and look forward to a successful year ahead. We are very keen to build on the many positives achieved during the year, not least our role in helping so many UK organisations gain invaluable funding for a wide range of exciting projects.”