"The popularity of Erasmus is swelled by the crisis," reports Catalan daily La Vanguardia. According to a report presented by the EU Education Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, more than three million students have benefited from the EU's higher education study abroad programme since it was created in 1987.
The programme, which is about to be reformed, "has benefited a million more students in just the last four years, as the economic crisis deepened," the paper says. One of the changes calls for Brussels to set a minimum stipend for each student based on the destination country as well as a maximum amount. This, La Vanguardia explains is because
Being in Erasmus in Spain is not the same as being in the programme in Latvia. In the Baltic country each student is awarded €641 per month while Spain is at the bottom of the ladder, providing only €123 per month per student – the least of all the EU countries. Other countries – particularly those with lower revenues – follow a different path. They send fewer students abroad but provide them with a higher stipend. The EU Commission wants to reform the system to put an end to such differences and to criticism that Erasmus is "a scholarship for the rich".
Spain, with 40,000 participating students last year, is the country that not only receives the most students but also sends the most abroad, says the paper, adding that –
the Erasmus Plus budget is one of the few posts that was increased in the new EU budget. It will represent €14.5bn from 2014 to 2020, a 40 per cent boost over the past seven years.