Students on years abroad have been hit by the late arrival of their Erasmus grants. Some students have received their grants up to three months later than planned, leaving those students who are dependent on the Erasmus grants in financial difficulty.
The Erasmus grant is a maintenance grant provided by the European Commission to students on their year abroad as part of the Erasmus scheme.
All participants of all nationalities are eligible to apply for the Erasmus grant, providing they are registered on a full-time degree programme.
This year, the existing Erasmus system was replaced by a scheme called Erasmus+. This has created delays in the processing of paper work that the British Council, the charitable organisation responsible for setting up study and teaching opportunities for UK students on their year abroad, must send to the European Commission.
The European Commission is responsible for the release of the grants to students, who then receive this money through their home university. Students experiencing the delays had not been told when they would receive the grant that they are owed, having been under the impression that it would arrive at the start of the academic year. According to a statement released by the British Council last week, as of 19 November, 66 UK universities have yet to be paid their Erasmus grants, leaving hundreds of students without the money they are designated.
A student at the University of York, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The year abroad is stressful enough already but the huge delays in the grant payment have made everything worse. I’ve had to extend my overdraft twice now. I realise it’s not York’s fault that everything is delayed, but for ages they weren’t even able to give us a rough date of when to expect the payment.”
Several petitions have set up on Change.org addressed to the British Council, urging them to resolve the situation. One such petition is called ‘When will Erasmus funding be allocated to universities? Don’t leave us in limbo’, which has currently received 105 signatures.
When on their year abroad, students still receive their maintenance loan for Student Finance, however for some students this is not enough to fund them. A second-year student at the University expressed her concerns about the situation.
She said: “I am currently applying for a teaching placement through the British Council for my year abroad, which I will be going on next year. Hearing this news is worrying as I receive a low maintenance grant from Student Finance and can’t survive on the money from my parents. I will be relying on the Erasmus grant to financially survive next year. Without it, I won’t be able to.”
Figures show that the demand for the Erasmus grant has grown by 9 per cent on last year, but the overall budget has increase only by 100 per cent. As well as the late delayed payments, the amount of grant received has been subject to cuts.