Funding for a further 559 scholarships, on top of the 525 that were already planned for 2011-2012, are being allocated to southern Mediterranean countries through 'Erasmus Mundus', the international version of the European Commission's Erasmus student and staff exchange scheme.
The recipients will be able to spend part of their studies, research or a teaching period in the European Union. The Commission is increasing its grant funding to encourage learning and training opportunities for individuals who are viewed as key to strengthening democracy in the region. The move is part of the EU's strategic response to the Arab Spring.
"I am very pleased that the Commission is increasing funding for young people and teachers who have been at the forefront of the democratisation process in the Southern Mediterranean. This sends a clear signal of our commitment to their cause," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Erasmus Mundus is open to applicants from all over the world, including the European Union. Since the launch of the scheme in 2004, more than 12 000 students, 300 doctoral candidates and 2 000 professors have received scholarships for joint Master's degree courses or doctorate programmes.
In the 2011-2012 academic year around 6000 students and researchers from 150 countries have already received scholarships worth a total of €210 million. The Commission has provided an additional €10 million to fund the extra 559 scholarships for countries in the southern Mediterranean. These countries are expected to benefit from further increases in funding for Erasmus Mundus scholarships and grants in 2012-13.
Over three-quarters of the grants offered through Erasmus Mundus since 2004 have been awarded to people in non-EU countries, including more than 3000 from North Africa and the Middle East. The size of the scholarship depends on the length of study or training period, the educational level of the candidate and the country of origin. Non-Europeans studying in the European Union receive at least €1000 per month towards their living costs while European students studying outside Europe receive at least €500 per month.
There are three broad target groups for Erasmus Mundus funding: students undertaking joint Master's courses and doctorates; partnerships between universities, and projects aimed at promoting the European higher education sector.
Joint Master's courses and doctorates
A consortium of at least three higher education institutions in Europe or beyond can apply for EU funding to offer scholarships to students enrolling on a joint Master's degree course or doctorate. The programmes must demonstrate outstanding academic quality and include obligatory study and research periods in at least two universities. A 'joint degree' is an integrated study programme offered by at least two higher education institutions resulting in a single degree certificate. Students are awarded scholarships based on criteria set by the universities concerned.
More than 160 higher education institutions currently participate in joint programmes, including 25 institutions in non-EU countries. 131 joint Master's degree courses and 34 joint doctorate programmes will be open for scholarship applications in 2012-2013, covering a wide range of subjects, from chemistry to computing and from criminology to choreography.
The full list of Erasmus Mundus joint Master's degree courses and doctorate programmes for the 2012-2013 academic year can be found here: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/results_compendia/selected_projects_en.php
Erasmus Mundus partnerships
Grants are also provided through Erasmus Mundus partnerships. These enable students, researchers and staff to visit partner institutions abroad to study or teach for a period of between three months and three years. In July 2011, 46 new partnerships were selected for funding, with 369 EU and 450 non-EU universities involved. Consortia must include a minimum of five higher education institutions from at least three European countries and higher education institutions from non-EU countries. Special attention is given to disadvantaged groups and people in a vulnerable situation. A list of all the Erasmus Mundus partnerships is available here: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/results_compendia/selected_projects_action_2_en.php
Promotion of European higher education
Support is also provided for projects that advance cooperation or promote the attractiveness of the European higher education sector. In 2011 seven such projects were selected, involving more than 100 non-EU partners, covering themes such as climate change, architecture and cultural tourism, and/or a strong regional focus. A list of projects is available here: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/results_compendia/selected_projects_promote_ehe_en.php
Erasmus for All
Erasmus Mundus will be integrated into the Commission's proposed new programme for education, training, youth and sport – Erasmus for All – which is due to be launched in 2014.