Erasmus+ as the successor of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) brings a major contribution to universities like the Deggendorf Institute of Technology and has improved the implementation of activities in the areas of education, training, youth, language and sports. The merging of different LLP sub-programmes and the structuring into three basic Key Actions has further streamlined the European Commission’s education policy.
Regarding Key Action 1 on learning mobility, the introduction of the Mobility Tool has proven to be beneficial in managing and coordinating Erasmus+ mobility projects, especially as it now enables participants to save draft versions and to calculate mobility grants. Furthermore, the overview display of the mobility projects is very useful. However, the fact that the implementation of the projects has become complex under Erasmus+ can be seen in the range of different IT tools, including the Mobility Tool, but also the Online Linguistic Support language test. The latter is a positive innovation because it gives a clear overview of the language abilities of students coming from sending universities. However, it would be better to integrate it into the Mobility Tool. Furthermore, the online language courses still need further development.
Cooperation projects have been further streamlined under Key Action 2 through the introduction of e.g. Knowledge and Sector Skills Alliances and Strategic Partnerships. The application of unit costs under Strategic Partnerships helps to better conceptualise a cooperation project, especially when it comes to the intellectual outputs. However, this holds less true for the financing of a Strategic Partnership, as the current system of unit costs may not be clear regarding the final amount of co-financing and cost-coverage.
Although it is clear that Erasmus+, like its predecessor, is based on co-financing, it can cause complications when only unit costs are taken into account, not necessarily reflecting the beneficiary's entire budget spending. A co-financing system based on real costs and units provided, alongside more flexibility in declaring the beneficiaries’ co-funding share, would provide more clarity and budgeting certainty.
All in all, the Deggendorf Institute of Technology considers Erasmus+ a key tool for mobility and internationalisation that ultimately benefits Europe by investing in its youth. While it has indeed made strides over the past few years, it now requires some fine-tuning in several areas like the ones mentioned here, to enable the programme to better face the future.
By Lisa Werner and Albrecht Freiss
Lisa Werner is Head of International Office (Erasmus+ internships) and Albrecht Friess is EU Officer in the Institute for Applied Research at the Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Germany.
The Deggendorf Institute of Technology participated in the 2016 EUA member consultation on Erasmus+. To see the findings, please click here.
Photo © Deggendorf Institute of Technology