SNP back Euro increase in Erasmus grants

27 October 2005
SNP MEP Alyn Smith today supported European Parliament moves to increase the financial support available to students taking part in the Erasmus scheme. He was supported by his SNP colleague Shadow Education Minister Fiona Hyslop.

The European Parliament today approved proposals to raise the monthly grant for the first time since 1993 from €150 a month to €210, eventually reaching €300 a month by 2013.

Speaking from Strasbourg Mr Smith who voted for the change said

"This would be a positive move for all Erasmus students. The Parliament's plans go beyond those of the Commission and offer a better deal to students. Ultimately it is now in the hands of Tony Blair and European leaders to agree a sensible EU budget so we can increase Erasmus funds. If not programmes like Erasmus will suffer and students will face real financial difficulties studying overseas.

In Scotland the number of students taking part in the Erasmus programme is declining and one of the reasons is that the funding had not kept pace with the cost of living. Taking part in Erasmus is a valuable opportunity for any student, I know, I did it, I hope this will mean that more students have that chance"

Ms Hyslop added:

"The European Parliament has signalled an intention to encourage students to move around the EU, and it's up to national governments to back this up now. I've already raised concerns about the low number of Scots students studying abroad and pointed out the need to have that number increased for the benefit of the students and of Scotland.

"What we need now is a commitment from the Executive that it will help support Scots who want to study abroad, and some idea of how it intends to do that. Scotland must take a proper place in the world, and it's up to the Executive to ensure that this happens."