Published on November 6, 2013 | by Laure Fourquet0
Spanish students spared Erasmus cutsSpanish students studying abroad through the Erasmus programme have had their grants saved at the last minute after more than 190,000 people signed a petition against planned cutbacks.
Around 10,000 Spanish students were almost left without any funding following the announcement of sudden cuts to Erasmus by Spain’s Ministry of Education.
The plans have made young Spaniards studying across Europe choose between finishing the term without a scholarship or returning to Spain before graduating due to lack of funding.
Shortly after releasing the plans, education minister José Ignacio Wert became the target of angry students on Twitter, with one Tweet reading: “Wert Minister calls for sacrifices to students who have lost the grants. Remove half of his salary to see if he likes sacrifice.”
A rebellion in his own party forced Wert to back out of the cuts.
Under the exchange scheme, the European Commission, the Spanish government and local authorities fund each Erasmus student; Alberto Escudero, a Spanish student in Dublin, told ALN that he would not have continued with the Erasmus programme had the scheme gone through.
Olivier Bailly, a spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels, criticised the Spanish government: “The Spanish authorities should have notified the students of this before the academic year began. I hope that the legitimate expectations of students who are already in the Erasmus programme will be met by the Spanish authorities.”
For many the news came as a shock as the government did not personally inform existing Erasmus students of the impending loss of their grant.
“It was written in the middle of an official document that was published on October 29,” said Laura Zornoza who set up the petition.
Zornoza lives in Madrid where she studies journalism, she is due to move to Hamburg next year but fears her family will have to make considerable sacrifices for her to study there, as the government will cut down on its scholarships by then.
Scholarships given by the state to Erasmus students are a maximum of €300 (£251), however, from next year, only a limited number of students from less privileged backgrounds will be able to get the grant allocated by the Spanish government.