Whilst on the metro last week to uni, I read an article which made me rather upset. The Erasmus programme, one of the most successful outcomes of the European Union, is under threat to become the latest victim of cutbacks. I have now heard rumours that students abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year might come across problems with grants in their second semester. (This better not be the case – especially seeing as I am yet to start receiving mine!)
Currently over three million students are enjoying the benefits of the exchange programme, which is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. France alone welcomes over 28,000 international students a year, as well as sending 30,000 across European borders. Personally (and not just because I am currently an Erasmus student), any cutbacks to the programme would be a great setback for European relations. The Erasmus programme is just as important as any other European economic mechanism, which not only gives students the opportunity to discover a new culture, but enables thousands to pursue a career abroad. Surely this is essentially as economically beneficial as any other European policy?
Particularly as a student from the UK, I believe being able to broaden your horizons and see that there is another language other than English is such a vital experience that the majority of our students cannot take privilege of. I find it such a shame that during school most English students are so disinterested in learning a foreign language. “But everyone speaks English, it’s the international language, right?” is an argument I often hear. I do cringe at the British stereotype abroad of speaking louder and just expecting the locals to understand.
So, any students out there who have done, are currently doing, or have the intention of fulfilling the Erasmus adventure, please show your support! The Erasmus programme today means a lot to the youth of Europe, it should be protected. There’s protest in Paris this weekend for anyone in the city wanting to see a renowned manifestation (I hear the French are supposed to be particularly good at these.) I am gutted that I can’t go, I’ve already booked a visit to the Châteaux de la Loire. If protesting is not your thing, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheErasmusProgram