Education should be available to all on an equal basis and students should not be excluded from overseas study opportunities because of their personal financial circumstances, says Green Party MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan.
“The Erasmus+ Programme, which allows students from Irish third level institutions to spend time over the course of their studies at third level institutions in other countries, gives great opportunities to students. The benefits of getting to spend time studying in other countries enhances the learning experience on many levels.
“However, while the programme aims to be inclusive and offer students an expansive, cross-cultural, international experience of learning, as it stands it is not realistically accessible to all students. I’m supporting a campaign to open up this programme and improve the inclusivity of the Erasmus+ Programme.”
The Erasmus500 campaign, developed by the European Students’ Union, Erasmus Student Network and the European University Foundation, is supported by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
While USI acknowledges the many benefits that the Erasmus+ programme brings for all of the Irish students and trainees who access it every year, as Erasmus+ progresses into its next phase of development, the programme supporters would like to see this programme being made available to even more students, and believe that this can be best achieved by providing a universal baseline of financial support.
Supporting this approach, MEP Grace O’Sullivan, who has regularly spoken publicly of her support for lifelong learning, says it’s the fairest way to equalise the system:
“The Erasmus500 campaign is calling for a simplification of the current system, which is complicated and unequal. What they’re proposing is a universal baseline of at least €500 per month for every student availing of the programme, but still allowing for national top-ups, top-ups for students from remote areas and underrepresented groups and those doing traineeships.
“This is a sensible and positive proposal that would go some way towards removing some of the main obstacles that prevent some students from availing of a programme that should be feasible and accessible to all.”