Thursday, 23 October 2008

EU proposals 'good for Welsh students and universities'

From Jill Evans MEP Plaid Cymru

Plans to extend the European Union's Erasmus student exchange programme have been described as good news for Welsh students and universities by Plaid MEP Jill Evans.

MEPs in Strasbourg this week approved proposals which would see more scholarships for European students and an increase in the number of students coming to study from outside the EU.

It's hoped the plans will be an important boost for Welsh universities who will be able to attract some of the best foreign students and academics. There will also be funding available to promote links between Welsh universities and those outside Europe.

In 2007/08 a total of 458 Welsh students studied overseas thanks to Erasmus, mostly in France, Spain and Italy, with Finland and Norway also popular destinations, and all Welsh universities take part. The European Commission proposes to make 950 million euros available for the Erasmus Mundus II programme in 2009-13.

Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote, the Plaid MEP, who represents the whole of Wales in the European Parliament, said:

"The aim of this multi million pound scheme is to help our universities attract the best foreign students and academics, forge links with institutions abroad and make it easier for our students to study abroad.

"Already, the scheme has proved extremely popular in Wales with hundreds of Welsh students studying overseas every year thanks to Erasmus, and hundreds of overseas students coming here to study.

"I am pleased to give these plans my full support, and I hope our Welsh universities will take full advantage of the new funding available."

Fellow Plaid European candidate Natasha Asghar, who spent time on work experience at Jill's office in Brussels when a student, commented:

"Working in Europe was an amazing experience and was a major influence on my career path.

"The political buzz and the opportunity to meet new people abroad was a fantastic experience that I shall cherish forever and I highly recommend it to everyone."

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