The first year of the new Erasmus+ European Union programme in the UK, aimed at organisations from the UK’s education, training, youth and sport sectors, has seen €98 million awarded to 818 successful projects so far, with a further €16 million to be awarded by the end of 2014.
The announcement came as Erasmus+ in the UK held its first annual conference yesterday (subs: Thursday 27 November) at Aston University in Birmingham, when 180 delegates gathered for the official conference theme of ‘Transitions’ to hear about progress over the first year and take part in sector workshops, networking activities and to listen to the experiences of projects funded in the previous programmes.
Erasmus+ replaced the former Lifelong Learning Programme and Youth in Action programme when it was launched across the EU earlier this year. In the UK around €1 billion or £840 million is being made available over seven years up until 2020.
The first release of statistics for the new programme show that just over a half (52 per cent) of the organisations who 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, schools accounted for 369 and the largest proportion, youth had 144, higher education had 171, vocational education and training had 108 and adult education had 26 of the successful applications.
A full list of the 818 successful projects will be published in due course.
The total value of applications was €205 million, which was 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 or €102 million.
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.
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.
Ruth 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.”
Carolyn Booth-Jones from Leeds City College was one such successful applicant in 2014, for a mobility project. She said:
“We worked with the former Lifelong Learning Programme sending staff and students on European work placements for many years and now embrace Erasmus+ to continue offering these life-changing experiences.
“The impact of European mobility visits cannot be over-estimated. Tutors working with young people who come from different and disadvantaged backgrounds (some who have never been out of their local town let alone visited another country), feel it is so rewarding to see how the young people grow and gain in confidence.
“The skills participants learn are invaluable for the rest of their lives.”