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Erasmus+ students face grant delays

Erasmus+ students at the University of Nottingham (UoN) are receiving their grants late this year, due to delays at a national level, causing some students problems whilst studying in foreign countries. The Erasmus programme is run by the EU, providing opportunities to study or work in Europe while completing their degree. 

With over 400 students participating in the Erasmus+ programmes per year, the University of Nottingham runs the largest of the programmes in the UK according to British Council figures.

There have been delays in the allocation of funding at national level, which has left UoN students short of money

Erasmus+ started on the 1st January 2014, taking over from the preceding Erasmus funding programme that existed, to fund students studying abroad. However, due to this change, the University told Impact that there have been delays in the allocation of funding at a national level, which has left UoN students short of money.

The University made it clear to students that the grant would be paid late. In March, those participating in the scheme were informed that the Erasmus+ grant allocation would not received until November. Furthermore, the University told Impact they have been ‘updating students whenever they can throughout the summer and autumn term’.

“I don’t know how I’m going to pay rent next month”

However, a third year student studying in central Europe told Impact, “the University implied that grants will now not be paid until mid December”. This shows a discrepancy between their earlier statements to students informing them it would be paid in November, causing students problems with budgeting.

Other UK universities have allocated students their grants by pulling funds from elsewhere. This will then be replaced by the Erasmus+ grant, when it is finally paid from the central funding.  Therefore, they received their grants on time, despite issues at the national level of funding.

Students have reported financial problems as a result of this delay. The grant is between 350 and 400 Euros per month, depending on the country of study. Two students Impact has spoken to have had to borrow money from parents.

“I am considering leaving the year abroad and going home”

“My student loan just about covers my rent”, the third year student told Impact. This leaves little or no money for the extra activities the Erasmus scheme offers to provide students with an experience of Europe.  “I am worrying about money because I planned to have my grant by now”, they went on to say.

Another student said, “I’m currently living off bread and ham, and I don’t know how I’m going to pay rent next month. I am considering leaving the year abroad and going home due to these financial difficulties”

These problems are exacerbated as the University, who originally told students they would receive the money in November, have had to push the payment dates back.

“Grants should be being sent to students in the next few weeks”

Early last week the University finally received their Erasmus grant allocation. “Grants should be being sent to students in the following weeks”, the University told Impact, as they start to send grants out to students on the scheme.

In the meantime, the University encourages students to contact them if they have still not received payment of their grant by early December time.

The British Council plan to change the payment date of the grant money to universities across the UK.  This would allow for allocation of funding to be paid to students on the scheme by the beginning of the Autumn semester, mitigating the financial troubles caused by late payment of the grant.

“The British Council would like to apologise to any university students who may have been affected by delays to their grant funding caused by the introduction of the EU’s new seven-year Erasmus+ programme”

In a statement released earlier this month, the British Council explained that the delays were due to the introduction of the new Erasmus+ system.

The statement said: “On behalf of all involved in Erasmus+, the British Council would like to apologise to any university students who may have been affected by delays to their grant funding caused by the introduction of the EU’s new seven-year Erasmus+ programme”.

Continuing, they stated that as of 28 November, over 80 percent of those waiting for funding had already been paid and just 28 universities were still awaiting money.

Of those 28, 11 universities were due to receive funding by 5 December, and the final 17 universities needed to finalise their paperwork before their were paid.

Jonathan McAllister

Image: Rose Bruford College

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