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Erasmus grants are not fair

While some students can save up, others are forced to live in poverty

The Erasmus programme is dealing out grants unfairly. This is according to students who feel cheated by a complicated system that rewards students from some regions while penalizing others, apparently at random.

The Erasmus exchange programme offers European exchange students grants which are intended to offset the extra costs that arise from studying abroad.

But questions to a sample of international students by the University Post reveal large differences: While some Eastern European students claim around EUR 500, a German student has to make do with a miserly EUR 100.

Grants used for summer holiday

Many international students receive a mishmash of grants from their university, the Erasmus programme, and besides that, a top-up by a national grant.

According to the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture, students from a country with a lower standard of living get a higher grant going to a country with a high standard of living.

But students say that the system is unfair.

»I pay twice as much for my room here in Denmark, compared to my friend who went to Poland. But I receive just ten euro more from the programme than she does,« says Dutch Erasmus student Kim Teo.

Read the European Commission’s defense of differences in Erasmus grants here.

While Kim borrows money from the bank to make ends meet, her friend in Poland is now saving money for summer.

Germans get next to nothing

»Erasmus grants should be EUR 250 on average EU-wide,« says Natascha Sander, Information & Communication officer, stating European Commission policy in response to a University Post query.

But even our cursory query among students shows that some receive considerably less, others considerably more.

And even within nations there are differences. Aitor Veiga from the northern Basque city of Pamplona gets EUR 420 a month, while Veronica Martinez Vidal from the Spanish capital Madrid feels the pinch with just EUR 150.

»I think this is not fair because we are all university students from the same country and we should have the same rights and opportunities,« reacts Veronica.

Overall, it is best to come from Poland, with a monthly grant that is sometimes as high as EUR 550 a month. Worst is to come from Germany, whose students sometimes have to settle for only EUR 100, according to our sample.

Who gets what? See the full results of the University Post’s mini-survey here.

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