The new Erasmus+ programme was launched in 2021 and with it an increased budget, new opportunities and practical tweaks to make the process that bit simpler. The simplification of the programme is yet to be truly tested, but what can be seen is the increase in the budget that almost doubled compared to the previous programme.
The launching of the new Erasmus+ programme in 2021, was shrouded in complications, budget delays, Brexit confusion and the COVID-19 situation. All led to a programme that was bigger and better than ever, but one which also led to tight application deadlines and was lacking some of the major new calls.
The programme guide for 2022 has recently been published and now it is possible to see the full version of the programme, the relevant priorities, practices and some new calls.
The new programme states a clear intent
The structure of the new programme remains the same with three Key Actions directing the focus of the programme:
- Key Action 1 deals with “Learning Mobility of Individuals”,
- Key Action 2 focuses on “Cooperation Among Organisations and Institutions” with
- Key Action 3 aiming to “Support Policy Development and Cooperation”.
Tracing similarities between the new and previous programme funding period, can be realised in the specifics of the calls. However, under the hood there are some major upgrades and additions which indicate that this new programme is a real statement of intent and one in which change and development are intrinsic.
The most important of these upgrades relates to how the programme will forge strong links with the overall European priorities of green and digital transformations, European identity and social inclusion. The reality of this can be seen in a number of new measures under mobility schemes for inclusion, a higher involvement of more digital and hybrid mobility and green travel.
With the release of the new programme guide, it is now possible to view the full version, call deadlines and new opportunities within its 468 pages. Below are some of the key takeaways.
Traditionally, all calls under KA2 would normally open in October/November with the deadlines in Spring of the following year. On average it would take 5 – 6 months to evaluate a project with the results being published in August/September. These were important milestones as they provided key dates in defining when a project would begin and also indicated when one could start planning to produce an application.
With this new programme guide the calls have been split. Under KA2 this means, that some deadlines are in Spring (February/March) and some in Autumn, specifically in September.
For example, the deadline for Cooperation Partnership projects (formerly known as Strategic Partnerships) will be March 23rd while Alliance for Innovation projects (formerly Knowledge Alliance) will have a September deadline.
It remains to be seen, if these deadline dates will become common practice for the remainder of the programme. For now, these changes provide some breathing room and more planning time between calls.
Key priorities and strategies
If you are reading this and are interested in Erasmus+ and you have not yet become familiar with the European Education Area, then I highly recommend taking the time to understand this framework. Erasmus+ is intended to be a major contributor to the achievement of the European Education Area objectives, as outlined in the overall programme architecture.
The programme will help drive systemic impact in mainstreaming innovative policies and accelerating new practices that improve the quality and relevance in the fields of education and training, youth work and youth policy throughout Europe, at national, regional and local level.
In addition, The Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 is part of the Commission’s strategy to make Europe “fit for the digital age” with the objective to support the digital transition in Europe. The two strategic priorities of the Digital Education Action Plan are: (1) developing a high performing digital education ecosystem; and (2) enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation form the basis for the support of the digital dimension of Erasmus+.
Finally, it is important that all proposals and project ideas aim to meet the overarching priorities of the Erasmus+ programme. The priorities insure the implementation of the programme by ensuring actions are Inclusive, Green, Digital and strengthen Participation in democratic life, common values and civic engagement. For more information on these priorities and the overall framework please take the time to read the Erasmus+ Annual Work Programme for 2022.
Lump sums financing will become the standard and replace the unit cost system from previous calls. Calculating the budget, using lump sums, has its benefits and drawbacks. Essentially it means more control by the project preparers as they need to define the real costs as opposed to selecting predetermined costs in the application.
This will provide more flexibility in the project management but also places a heavier burden when planning the budget, tasks, work packages etc, in the budgeting and preparation phase. Lump sums are here to stay and becoming familiar with the planning and implementation of this financial approach will be important.
Many of the new calls under KA2 have remained from the previous programme period, just with different names and updated priorities In essence they are still the same. Knowledge Alliance projects have been renamed as Alliance for Innovation projects and also have a budget increase. Strategic Partnerships are now Cooperation Partnerships and also have a slight budget increase. It is worth spending time to become familiar with the priorities and focus of these calls as they have been updated in line with the new Erasmus+ programme.
Capacity Building projects have returned this year with 3 strands and they represent an interesting opportunity to work with organisations outside the EU.
However, the newest action on the block must be the “Forward Looking Projects (FLPs)” which is based on 3 Lots: Cross-sectoral priorities, Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education. This new call will aim to foster innovation, creativity and participation, as well as social entrepreneurship in different fields of education and training, within sectors or across sectors and disciplines.
FLPs are large-scale projects that will support high-quality and inclusive digital education and the adaptation of education and training systems to the green transition. These ambitious projects will benefit from a larger budget and will run for a minimum of three years. They aim to involve a mix of public and private organisations. The overall objective is to achieve innovative outcomes that can impact education on a European scale. All these calls can be found in the Funding and Tenders Portal.
After some delays and updates it is now possible to say that the new Erasmus+ programme has finally arrived. The new programme’s structure will most likely not change all that much between now and the next programme release in 2028.
This structure is unique as the flexibility provided by the programme and the staggering of the opening of calls will allow preparers the chance to plan proposals in advance, build strong partnerships and learn the nuances of the calls well in time. Therefore, the deciding factors in producing a successful application will rely on finding the elements to create projects that are innovative, well-structured and meet the requirements of Erasmus+.