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15th May 2024

EU sets goal of sending at least 23% of university students and 12% of VET students abroad by 2030

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • The European Council set ambitious new targets for youth mobility in Europe and also beyond the region
  • Only 15% of EU youth had participated in EU mobility programmes in 2022
  • The aim is to increase this to at least 23% of higher education students

Erasmus+, already the world’s largest student mobility programme, will play a significant role in a new goal set by European Union members to boost regional and global mobility through the rest of this decade.

The European Council, composed of national ministers from each EU country, has accepted a recommendation from the European Commission (which proposes and implements policies for the EU), to increase opportunities for European youth to learn, train, and study in other parts of Europe as well as in non-EU countries.

The adopted recommendation is called “Europe on the Move,” and these are its targets:

  • At least 23% of higher education graduates should have a learning mobility experience by 2030.
  • At least 12% of vocational education and training (VET) learners should also have this experience by 2030.
  • At least 20% of all learners “with fewer opportunities” should have learning experience in another EU country by 2027.

The new targets are ambitious, given that a 2022 Eurobarometer survey of Europeans aged 15–30 found that only 15% of respondents had participated in learning, training, or study in another EU country. This compares to 24% of Australian undergraduates, 16% of American undergraduates, and 7% of undergraduates who had participated in some type of international learning or training experience as of 2019.

The previous target for EU mobility was 20%, established as part of the Bologna Process in 2009.

To achieve the goals of “Europe on the Move,” the European Commission recommends “strengthening language-learning at all stages of education and training, raising awareness about learning mobility opportunities, and improving recognition of learning outcomes obtained as a result of mobility.”

It also calls on “existing synergies and complementarities between the EU programmes that address learning mobility, such as Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, and other funding instruments at EU, international, national and regional level, such as the EU’s Cohesion Policy funds, in particular the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund Plus, with its Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve (ALMA) initiative.”

In 2022, Erasmus+, on its own, enabled 1.2 million participants to undertake learning, training, or study abroad with a budget of €4 billion. It enabled 26,000 projects and involved about 73,000 organisations. It was given a boost to its budget for the 2021-2027 period in a goal of ensuring that more EU students have the opportunity to learn outside their country at least once in their studies.

Commenting on the new EU initiative, Caroline Désir, Minister of Education, French Community of Belgium, said:

“Mobility has long been at the heart of the EU project. Learning abroad can provide valuable skills and a stronger sense of the EU’s common values. Today’s recommendation will help expand opportunities for everyone to take advantage of the immense benefits that come with learning, studying or training outside their country of birth.”

For additional background, please see:

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