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Erasmus Mundus programmes are changing this year. What can you expect?

By The Erasmus Mundus Association Editorial Team

A new generation of Erasmus Mundus programmes are starting this autumn, and there are some significant changes from what we may all be used to.

EMA reached out to the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) Unit A3—the team in charge of the implementation of the Erasmus Mundus Action—as well as several other stakeholders to learn more about the changes.

Dagmar Höpcke, Project Advisor working in Unit A3 at the EACEA, told us that “the European Commission indeed implemented a series of new programme features to further increase the attractiveness of EMJMs for both students and higher education institutions worldwide.”

You may have already noticed one of the major changes in the sentence above: what is an EMJM? What was previously known as an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) is now simply an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master (EMJM).

This name change is just one small detail that newly funded or re-funded programmes under the new Erasmus Mundus Action are undergoing. Here’s a summary of some of the differences that incoming students in autumn 2022 will face in this new generation of master programmes:

EMJM sustainability and impact

Programme self-sustainability and impact are now of greater importance. According to Höpcke, “emphasis is now put on all enrolled students (scholarship holders and non-scholarship holders) with the aim to recruit more non-scholarship holders.”

Höpcke told EMA that previously, “non-scholarship holders were not a main concern. Consortia only had to commit to enrol a certain number of scholarship holders. There was no financial impact on the EU funding when a consortium did not manage to attract any non-scholarship holders. Therefore, there was no incentive to work on this. This is now completely different.”

The institutional unit cost they receive per student to contribute to the running costs of the masters also includes non-scholarship holders (for a total of 100 students max: scholarship holders and non-scholarship holders),” she said. “The number of non-scholarship holders in the programme has thus an impact on the amount of EU funding a consortium may receive. This provides an incentive for consortia to attract more self-funding students which is likely to translate into a higher sustainability of the programmes in the future.”

Scholarship and funding changes

There are now only three types of costs for EMJM programmes: institutional costs, scholarships, and individual needs, simplifying funding for programmes and students alike.

EMA spoke to Dr. Lydia Potts, Consortium Coordinator for the European Master in Migration and Intercultural Relations (EMMIR). EMMIR is a programme which has previously received two rounds of funding as an EMJMD, has now received a third round of funding for four new cohorts—now called ‘editions’—as an EMJM, and is currently accepting applications for their 10th intake of students.

“The new EMJM grants reduce administrative work, especially for the coordinating university. Overall, this will mean that we expect to have more resources to look after students,” instead of administrative work, Potts said.

Scholarship amounts per month have increased and have been simplified both for European and non-European students. All scholarship holders are given 1,400 EUR per month, regardless of their country of origin. This scholarship amount also covers subsistence, installation, travel, and a fee-waiver for programme costs. The previous ‘travel allowance & installation cost’ budget allocated to scholarship holders does not exist anymore, but is included in this increased scholarship amount.

Another changed rule may be quite exciting to future scholarship holders: “Scholarships are also paid during study periods in the country of residence of students as long as the student has spent during the EMJM programme at least 2 study periods (equivalent of 2 academic semesters) in 2 countries which are not his/her country of residence,” Höpcke told EMA.

It is also worth noting that under the new programme generation, projects will not be allowed to charge student application fees.

Regarding scholarship amounts, Potts told EMA: “For students, 1,400 EUR per month is a very generous scholarship in most countries and I would not expect any difficulties to cover travel expenses from within Europe from this, right from the beginning of the programme. But for many non-European scholarship holders, it might be more challenging now.”

Because previous EMJMD rules allowed students to receive a separate unit cost for travel and installation expenses upon arrival at their first university in addition to their monthly scholarships, this rule change would result in less money up-front for scholarship holders.

Now, incoming students might need to rely on personal savings or even a loan for the initial mobility to start the programme, according to Potts, in order to cover visas, vaccinations, travel, initial housing and maybe also clothes and other personal expenses.

“As a coordinator, I would also expect students to be more reluctant to spend money for travel throughout the programme, but this remains to be seen,” she said.

The EACEA stressed to EMA that the scholarships are now, overall, much more generous for European and non-European scholarship holders. EMA’s contacts at the EACEA insisted on “the responsibility and autonomy of consortia to establish the most adequate payment scheme to provide the necessary financial support to the scholarship holders according to their needs. One of the main aims of the new Erasmus Mundus Action is indeed to make the scheme more flexible for the EMJM consortia.”

Rajon Bhuiyan, previous scholarship recipient and graduate of the Erasmus Mundus programme Masters in Management and Engineering of Environment and Energy (ME3) and Director of Outreach and Capacity Building at EMA, said: “I really appreciate the increase in the scholarship amount because it coincides with the increase in living cost within Europe in 2022.

“For my 120 ECTS master program, I received a total of 31,000 EUR over two years: 24,000 EUR for 24 months + 6,000 EUR for two years of travel allowance as a South Asian + 1,000 EUR for installation costs. Previously, the travel allowance depended on the distance between the coordinating university and the applicant's country of origin,” said Bhuiyan. “From now on, all scholarship recipients, irrespective of country of origin, will receive 1,400 EUR per month for 24 months resulting in 33,600 Euros in total for a 120 ECTS master program. This is an increase of 2,600 EUR for a 2 year scholarship recipient.”

Greater inclusivity

EMJMs also have a new feature which their previous EMJMD versions didn’t: special needs funding. According to Höpcke, EMJM programmes “can contribute to the individual needs of students with disabilities (e.g. long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments).”

This financial support is available to all enrolled students (scholarship holders and non-scholarship holders) and takes the form of a ‘special needs unit cost’ ranging from 3,000 EUR to 60,000 EUR and can be used for assistance such as by third persons, adaptation of work environment, or additional travel/transportation costs.

Madina Karsakpayeva, graduate of Erasmus Mundus Special & Inclusive Education (EM SIE) and Project Manager of the EMAbility project, said that “inclusion of students with disabilities is vital. The more Erasmus Mundus programs that welcome students with various types of disabilities, the better and more diverse the labour market will become. Globally, young professionals with disabilities will be able to continue to contribute to the economic development in their respective countries after their programmes end, as well.”

Along with this special funding for special needs students, Karsakpayeva also recommends that EMJMs provide more specific and detailed information on which support they offer for special needs applicants, such as listing specific adaptations or accommodations are available, and highlights the need “to provide more disability inclusion trainings for the personnel of university and program coordinators.”

Potts has shared that the EMMIR consortium is very welcoming toward this addition. “It will be a learning experience for our programme and we very much hope that we will become more inclusive, especially as the resources will allow us to make arrangements for students [who rely on this special needs support funding] to spend periods outside Europe and the Global North.”

Institutional changes

“Besides these concrete new provisions directly applying to the students, considerable positive side-effects are also expected through the changes at institutional level,” said Höpcke.

The new Erasmus Mundus Design Measures (EMDM) Action has been created to support the design of new joint master programmes in an effort to increase diversity in the countries and institutions represented in EMJMs. This new scheme has already been positively received by the universities, EMA was told by the EACEA. So far, 40 projects have been selected to lead the launch of new joint master programmes in the coming years.

Additionally, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from partner countries not associated with the Erasmus+ Programme can now also be part of the minimum consortium set-up and can even become EMJM coordinators, increasing the internationalisation of EMJMs.

Number of applications

There is another change that has affected EMJM(D) applicants recently, which is the number of scholarships that applicants can apply for. This rule was changed in 2019, and affects all programmes: EMJMDs and EMJMs alike—not solely for EMJMs (as part of the new Erasmus Mundus Action). Learn more about that rule change here.

Positive changes altogether

“In general,” said Gabriella Mikiewicz, President of EMA, “I believe the changes that this new generation of Erasmus Mundus programmes has undergone seem positive and aligned with the needs of students.

"I look forward to seeing Erasmus Mundus continue to grow and for students and alumni to be recognised on a global level for achievements!”

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