Mid-term Erasmus+: what do national reports tell us?
Erasmus+ needs to have a bigger budget and be more inclusive, according to the Erasmus+ mid-term evaluation. Most countries agree on these issues and other key areas for improvement, but there are small differences. These nuances tell us more about the different priorities throughout Europe, but how do these compare and what do the national evaluations tell us about the status quo? Neth-ER takes you along the main points of the ongoing discussion in this editorial, which considers and compares 20 national evaluations.
Programme needs more budget
According to the evaluations, Erasmus++ needs a bigger budget to satisfy the number of applications that are submitted. However, some countries (for example, Belgium and Germany) think that the increased budget should mostly be allocated to Key Action 1 (mobility), while others (for example Croatia, Romania and Slovakia) argue for more money for Key Action 2 cooperation projects. This means a choice has to be made about the specific allocation of a potentially bigger budget. The next programme therefore needs to take the different needs in different countries into account. If Erasmus++ wants to achieve its all-inclusiveness and reduce inequalities throughout Europe, the new programme’s budget must not take a one-size-fits-all approach, but fill the gaps where the demand is highest and most urgent.
No more exclusion in Erasmus++
The accessibility and efficiency of the programme are also held back by the great administrative burden in application processes. There is an overall agreement that Erasmus+ should offer a ‘fast-track’ to organisations and individuals with fewer resources or that are disadvantaged in any other way. This will enhance inclusion in the programme, but more should be done to reach out to in particular people with lower opportunities or special needs. There could be more and widespread support for projects that encourages participation of disadvantaged people and support systems for students who risk exclusion could be enhanced.
More effective cooperation and dissemination needed
According to several country reports, cross-sectoral projects should be increased. In order to increase long-term effects of the programme, project results should be disseminated more effectively. Some countries argue that this can be done on project-level, but others think that dissemination on a systemic level would reap the best results. Furthermore, the emerging synergies could be better promoted (National Agencies could – as some country reports argue – play a role in this process). Another idea is to create an extra pillar for cross-sectoral cooperation to promote partnerships on all levels, which would be a more centralised approach.
Include VET and adult learners
The VET and adult education sector need to be included better in Erasmus++, according to several country reports. However, where some countries argue that more budget would result in more inclusion for these sectors, others claim that Erasmus++ needs a better system to reach out to VET students in order for them to participate in the programme. More flexibility for mobility periods could create more opportunities for adult and VET students within the programme.
Erasmus+ and its European added value
The Erasmus+ programme can increase its added value by for instance taking into account national priorities. Erasmus+ could feed into national focus areas to maximise its impact throughout Europe and thus increase its EU added value. Although different countries suggest different measures to further enhance EU added value, it is clear that Erasmus+ has helped achieved results that could not have been achieved with national or regional programmes. This is why Erasmus+ should invest in areas where a European approach transcends national or regional approaches. Still, all participating countries fully support the Erasmus+ programme. Respondents in many country-specific evaluations agree that Erasmus+ promotes democratic values, tolerance and a feeling of European citizenship. Furthermore, Erasmus+ has proven to advance opportunities for international collaboration and it has improved the quality of national education programmes.
Most countries deem the programme as one of the cornerstones of European cooperation and present positive results in the evaluation. However, the country reports argue for more budget and simpler administration processes. IT tools should also be simplified and social inclusion is one of many countries’ priorities. Yet the way in which these improvements must be made, differ between countries. The country reports give insight into the experiences on a national level, the implementation and perspectives of participants. The nuances are a result of different experiences with the programme and these differences are important to take into account when designing Erasmus++.
The mid-term evaluation of Erasmus+ consists of three parts: an external, overall evaluation done by an independent consultancy, country reports and a study on the long term impact of previous programmes, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-2013) and Erasmus Mundus. According to the evaluation roadmap, the outcomes of these mid-term evaluations will influence Erasmus+ during the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) period and it will be used to feed into the next programme. The proposal for Erasmus++ is expected in the summer of 2018 and the next programme period will start in 2021.
Written by Lieke Janssen & Mariëlle Brouwer
Publication European Commission: Mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme (2014-2020)
Publication European Commission: Combined evaluation of Erasmus+ and predecessor programmes. Synthesis of the National Authorities’ Reports on the implementation and the impact of Erasmus+
Publication European Commission: Combined evaluation of Erasmus+ and predecessor programmes. Final report – main evaluation report
Publication European Commission: Evaluation Roadmap
Article Neth-ER (Dutch): Factsheet: mid-term evaluatie Erasmus+
Article Neth-ER (Dutch): Tussentijdse evaluatie Erasmus+: meer aandacht voor mbo nodig