Erasmus+: a successful European brand, but needs better performance measurement, say Auditors



Gerry O'Sullivan

Posted: 6 September, 2018

Student mobility under the Erasmus+ programme generates many forms of European added value and has a positive effect on participants’ attitudes towards the EU, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors; countries would not be able to achieve such effects acting alone. However, the auditors found that the indicators used to measure the Programme’s performance should be better aligned with its objectives. They add that application and reporting processes are still too complex, despite some simplification.

The Erasmus+ Programme’s objective is to provide learners and staff with the opportunity to gain skills and undergo personal, socio-educational and professional development through study, training, work experience or volunteering abroad. It also aims to improve quality and foster innovation, excellence and internationalisation in educational organisations.

The auditors assessed the performance and European added value of Erasmus+ Mobility, a key action of the Programme in the area of education and training, which accounts for over half the €16.45 billion budget. By January 2018, more than 2.3 million learners and staff had benefitted from Erasmus+ Mobility.

Overall, Erasmus+ Mobility has met most of the targets set for it. On a critical note, the auditors found that the indicators used to measure the Programme’s performance should be better aligned with its objectives.

“Erasmus+ has enabled millions of people to study, train and work abroad, which made it a wellknown, successful EU brand,” said Rimantas Šadžius, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “Erasmus+ Mobility generates many forms of European added value beyond its legal requirements, such as a strategic approach to mobility, an increase in the sense of European identity and multilingualism. These elements should be assessed as part of performance evaluation.”

Compared to previous programmes, Erasmus+ has introduced many innovations with a view to simplifying administration in the area of mobility. However, application and reporting processes are still too complex, say the auditors. Moreover, the innovative Student Loan Guarantee Facility has not produced its expected results.

For the future Erasmus+ programme, the auditors recommend that the European Commission should:

  • suggest additional European added value elements, which should be prioritised at the project appraisal stage, monitored and reported on;
  • improve the measurement of objectives achieved and prioritise performance when allocating funds;
  • simplify the scheme further to reduce administrative burdens, with improved IT tools;
  • include school students in Erasmus + Mobility and consider more flexibility for PhD students;
  • assess the possibility of reintroducing funding for traditional classroom language teaching;
  • include doctoral and undergraduate mobility under the Student Loan Guarantee Facility.

Mobility under Erasmus+: Millions of participants and multi-faceted European Added Value