Sam Fearnley gets the insight on the new Erasmus funding cuts
UCL has reduced the grant given to students on the Erasmus study abroad programme by using complicated, dubious and underhand tactics.
As ‘London’s Global University’, UCL is expected to have a comprehensive study abroad programme, and it does. Many students spend their third years abroad in a variety of different places. But those who left at the end of this summer on Erasmus places in the EU were in for a rather unexpected surprise.
The students were promised a grant which equates to about 400 euros each month. But having already planned to be in their respective countries for two – and in many cases three – months, they were made aware that their grants would be 33% lower than they were told before the summer.
There are grey areas as to which institution is the direct cause, because UCL has placed blame on the EU, the British Council and Erasmus itself.
There is no doubt, however, that UCL is at fault at least in part. The university has disguised the grant reduction by effectively reducing the amount of time that students should be studying in their foreign universities to 5.4 months. In reality this means students would still be receiving 400 euros each month, but returning from their years abroad part way through the month of February.
Rosanna Ford (Ancient World Studies student in Bologna, Italy) said, “I don’t mind it being cut, because getting any money in the form of a grant is great, but the issue is we were given a way higher ballpark figure, so were led to believe we could afford things, mainly apartments, that we actually can’t”.
The British Council has stated that the reason UCL’s funding was delayed and reduced is because they sent too many people abroad and the money doesn’t cover the number of people who are currently at foreign universities.
Becky Pinnington (French and German student in Tours, France) said, “Essentially, the Erasmus funding is massively insufficient. Currently we’re getting about 6 months’ funding for a 12 month placement abroad, which for me is a compulsory component of my degree, and which I therefore did not really choose to do. The way it’s been handled has been absolutely ridiculous. But essentially this is classic UCL — why bother keeping your students happy when you can just take their money and run?”
A petition has been set up for UCL to reimburse students, and to give a full explanation as to why the grants were cut, which can be signed here.
Image credit: Edisonblus/ Wikipedia