New Delhi: 134 Indian students have been awarded the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) scholarship under the EU Erasmus+ programme, making India the top global recipient this year. Under the EMJMD scheme students will get an opportunity to pursue master’s degree in leading European universities in at least two different European countries. This year witnessed a 40% increase in the Indian students receiving the Erasmus Mundus scholarship as compared to last year. The fully funded scholarship will cover tuition fee, travel costs and living allowance of the recipient.
France, UK and Belgium, Germany, Italy and Portugal are the top six higher education destinations where the students will start their courses this year. Under this programme, the Indian students will be pursuing 78 different programmes ranging from Management, Food Sciences, Cartography, Vaccinology, Photonics, Biological & Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy, Digital Earth, Sustainable Tropical Forestry, Decentralised Smart Energy Systems to Tribology of surface.
To mark this success, the Delegation of the European Union to India organised a virtual event for the Indian students. Congratulating the scholars, the Ambassador of the European Union to India, H.E. Mr. Ugo Astuto said, “An Erasmus degree fosters excellence, innovation and internationalisation. Being an Erasmus scholar also offers the opportunity to explore Europe and its diverse cultures and languages. You will meet fellow students from all over the world and study in a truly globalised environment. I hope you will come back as goodwill ambassadors for the EU-India cooperation and partnership.”
Bringing together Indian students, Erasmus Alumni and EU Member States, the event provided an interactive platform to share information on studying in Europe and other practical aspects. Sharing their experiences, Erasmus Alumni provided useful tips on how students can optimize the opportunity offered by the programme.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer in the Ministry of Education encouraged Indian students to go to Europe and grow as tolerant human beings, open to cultural diversity. He asked them to “take maximum advantage of all opportunities and build networks for their future and their country, which needs them to address the problems and challenges that India and humanity at large are facing.” He emphasised that for this it is important that while studying, they develop a problem-solving mind and skills.
Given the current global challenge and uncertainties, the Erasmus+ programme, EU Member States and the universities are putting all their efforts to ensure that support and information is available to the students, while ensuring flexibility in the programme. Reassuring the students given the unprecedented situation, Mr. Adrian Veale, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission, Brussels said, “The Erasmus programme has been working closely with the partner countries. Our first priority is health and safety of the students. Erasmus+ has also offered flexibility to the universities for them to continue operating in these circumstances. While some programmes have built in a delayed start to the academic programme, others may start with online lessons and will switch to face-to-face teaching when this becomes more feasible. These new arrangements will continue to apply at the start of our academic year in September 2020. Erasmus+ and the various partner countries are eager to offer the programme as early as possible. Each programme will have a slightly different approach depending on the regional and local situation.” He also advised the students to be in close contact with their respective programme coordinator who would be the point of contact for advising on travel and the program.
EU Member States representatives shared information with the students on what their country had specifically to offer, the opportunities on education and research and innovation and the impact of COVID-19 in their respective countries and regions and responded to queries of the students.
EU India focus on People to People and Cultural Cooperation
At the recently held EU-India Summit (15 July 2020), the European Union and the Government of India welcomed the exchange of students, researchers and professionals and agreed to improve awareness of study and scholarship opportunities in the EU and in India in the coming years to strengthen the cultural ties between the two regions.
Voices from Indian students who have received the scholarship this year:
Nithish Kumar CV, from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, will be studying Nuclear Physics at the University of Seville (Spain) and thereafter in France and Italy. An alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Andhra Pradesh he said, “Europe is known for its research in fundamental physics. Not only will this program help me to build my base in research, it will also give me a chance to work in some of the established physics research groups in Europe. I am very thankful to the University of Seville for answering my doubts related to admission process amidst this troubled time due to Covid-19. I would also like to thank the tireless efforts of the government diplomats of India and the European Union for giving us students the opportunity to excel in our fields of interest.”
Satyajit Mal from Kolkata, West Bengal will be studying at the University of Rome Sapienza (Italy) and thereafter at the University of Naples Federico II (Italy), University of Coimbra (Portugal) and National Technical University of Athens (Greece). An alumnus of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi he said, “As a professional I was looking at a multi-disciplinary approach for higher education. The Erasmus+ programme provides this opportunity in 3 different countries, internship options and mobility of students which inspired me to apply for the scholarship and the course. I also extend gratitude to the EU Member States and consortium members who have supportive during the pandemic and the course may start by early next year. I feel privileged to be a part of the batch 2020 of Erasmus scholars across the world.”
Sayantwana Bayaskar, from Khamgaon, Maharashtra, is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. She will be completing her term at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias of Lisbon, Portugal and Színház- és Filmművészeti Egyetem, Budapest and LUCA School of Arts, Brussels, Belgium. “Having witnessed the growth of documentary filmmakers from this institute and the kind of global exposure it gives is what excited me. The institute and the authorities have been extremely supportive during this situation for the visa procedures. In fac, we even received an email that the pandemic was not going to hamper our scholarships, which was a very sensitive gesture,” she said.
Sneha Arora who hails from Silvassa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and is an alumnus of the Department of Archaeology, University of Kerala. “Europe is home to some of the best universities in the world and also offers various funding opportunities like Erasmus Mundus. We have continuous support from local coordinators in Ghent Belgium, EMGS coordinators in Leipzig and the Belgium embassy in New Delhi which provided an exception for a document which could not be procured due to the pandemic. I am excited to start this journey and grateful to everyone who has made this happen.” Sneha will be studying in the University of Evora, Portugal, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
EMJMD: An Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree, is one of the four schemes under the EU Erasmus+ Programme. It offers an integrated study programme, jointly delivered by an international consortium of higher education institutions across Europe. The scholarship for this programme is awarded on a competitive basis by annual call of proposals and covers tuition fee, travel costs and living allowance. The next call for proposals will be in the course of 2021.
Impact of COVID-10 on the Erasmus+ mobility programme
The EU has put in place several supporting measures in order to provide a coordinated and consistent framework that Erasmus Mundus consortia can operate with an aim to minimise disruptions and to allow a flexible approach for programme management under these exceptional circumstances. According to a recent survey conducted by the EU, till now EMJMD consortia has reacted to the difficulties encountered in the context of COVID-19 with a variety of creative solution and good practices, demonstrating their strong commitment to the continuity of their programmes in an outstanding quality and to support their students. Moreover, some consortia see the current situation as a learning opportunity, in particular regarding the development and use of online teaching methodology and tools and blended learning approaches. Consortia put in place different combinations of the measures, depending on specific situation and needs of the students.
Erasmus+ Scholarships: Over 6,000 Indian scholars have benefitted from the Erasmus+ scholarship since it opened to India in 2004, which makes the country one of the largest beneficiaries outside Europe.
Indian students can choose Europe as a destination by applying for a scholarship under Erasmus+, which is the EU’s programme for education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020. Indians can participate in all four types of schemes covered under Erasmus+, besides schemes offered by individual Member States. The four schemes are: (1) the International Credit Mobility (ICM) which allows for short-term (3-12 months), two way, mobility of students and staff for which credits are obtained; (2) the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (EMJMD) allows Indian students to obtain a full master’s degree in Europe, in a time span of two to three years, by studying in at least two different countries in Europe. (3) the capacity building in higher education (CBHE) projects lasts from two to three years, during which European academia and staff help modernising and reforming higher education systems, establishing new curricula, improving the governance and enhance education and enterprise cooperation of partners in other countries like India. A CBHE project can also tackle policy topics and issues, in cooperation with the national authorities of partner countries; and (4) Jean Monnet (JM), which promote excellence in teaching and research on the European integration process at a higher education level, and supports Modules, Chairs, and Centres of Excellence across the world.