Erasmus+ Made Easy! How to Make the Most of it and Give it a ‘Plus’

By | April 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Comité Directeur | Tags: , , , , ,

Plenty of AEGEE members have heard about Erasmus+ at some point. However, not many of us have actually gone through the time-consuming application process. The long application form and the large amount of questions and items you need to think about sound like an unreachable objective for many locals and European bodies of AEGEE. And yes – it is hard, it takes a lot of time, but by no means it is impossible! In this article, we will decode Erasmus+ and make it easy. After all, having quite some financial support for your projects is always an optimal thing, isn’t it?

What does the Erasmus+ fund?

  • Key Action 1 deals with mobility for young people and youth workers;
  • Key Action 2 deals with cooperation for innovation and exchange of good practices – meaning cooperation among youth organisations to run joint projects;
  • Key Action 3 is about policy development and support for reforms on youth policy (for instance, the Structured Dialogue).

 

TMEME ERASMUShis article will focus especially on Key Action 1 initiatives, because it is the one that gives more space for opportunities for AEGEE locals, and it is the one that receives the biggest percentage of Erasmus+ funds (long story short, ‘easier’ to get).

The Key Action 1 of Erasmus+ focuses on the development of the individual, meaning YOU as a student/young person. In other words, you attend a training course where you gain a certain set of skills and competences. In this way, it contributes to your personal development and, no less important, to understand other cultures and countries participating in the training course better.

There are three main activities that you can organise under Key Action 1:

  • Youth exchanges: an opportunity for students aged 13 to 30 to meet up and address a chosen topic (arts, education, audiovisuals, sports, you name it!), where different methods are used, such as workshops, simulation games and other exercises – all of them prepared beforehand.
  • European Voluntary Service (EVS): namely, the opportunity to volunteer for up to one year at an organisation abroad, in order to contribute to its daily work and bring a benefit to the local community. There are many types of organisations and topics which you can participate in for your EVS, ranging from environment, to culture, people with disabilities, media, development, and many more!
  • Training and networking for youth workers: these include anything related to your professional development – training courses, seminars, debates, case study trips. If you are interested in boosting your skills, this is the place to be!


You might be thinking: “I want to participate in one of these activities!”…

From l'Auberge Espagnole, the film that depicted the Erasmus lifestyle for the first time.

Picture from l’Auberge Espagnole, the film that depicted the Erasmus lifestyle for the first time.

Great news: it is easier and more accessible than you might think! The most important thing that you need is to get your AEGEE antenna registered in the Erasmus+ database and get the Partner Identification Code (PIC), you can find more information about it in the Members Portal.

Then, you just need to find a training course of your interest! There are a handful of Facebook groups where youth organisations from all over Europe look for partners or participants for their youth exchanges. However, *the* source for training activities is SALTO-YOUTH’s European Training Calendar. Browse all the options that you will find in there, send your mandate (which will confirm that you agree to be a partner of the project), and you are just one click away from starting a journey of a lifetime!

…or you might be thinking: “how about applying with my own project?”

You have an idea in mind for a great project? You need resources? What better idea than to get funding from Erasmus+? The first thing you would need is a theme for your project. In this sense, Erasmus+ funds a wide range of topics, ranging from active citizenship, intercultural learning and preventing discrimination, employability and entrepreneurship, promotion of diversity, trainings, non-formal education, all topics that we, AEGEEans, work with on a daily basis!

Moreover, one of the highlights and priorities of the year 2016 for the European Commission concerns the current refugee crisis. Because of it, projects that promote intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, respect for human rights, and that involve refugees and asylum seekers in some way will be given a “plus”.

Once you have an idea, it is the time to design your master plan and make it happen! First of all, you have to know that your Erasmus+ will not only be “an event” as such, but a project as a whole. Erasmus+ works in a way that you submit a project, and that this project can have one or more activities (what we understand as events/exchanges/training courses as such). Therefore, each project needs to follow different basic stages: planning (including previous preparation in terms of logistics and content, how you will communicate with participants etc.), execution, and closure (which includes the impact, evaluation and PR/communication of the project). And you need to carefully plan all of the stages.

keepcalmTherefore, when planning it, you need to ask yourself: what are the aim and the objectives that I want to achieve with this exchange/training/conference? Which impact is it going to have? What are all the steps that I need to take in order to make my project happen? How will I plan the PR campaign for my project? How will I select the participants? Some of the questions in the long Erasmus+ application form are quite basic for someone who has a lot of experience organising events, but it is important for you to follow the different quality assurance steps, and use the questions as a ‘check-list’ of things you need to think about when putting your project into practice.

Something that you should really put an emphasis on, and that the National Agencies value, is how you plan to follow-up and disseminate (namely, the PR and communication of the event in social media, in booklets, etc) your project so it has a big impact. Another big “plus” for your application has to do with inclusion: how will you ensure gender balance? Are you planning to include young people with fewer opportunities? Last but not least, you should also consider which tools you plan to use in order to recognise the skills that the participants will gain from your project. There are many certifications available, and you should strongly consider using the YouthPass, a commonly-used European tool to certify these skills.

Partner up!

In a project funded by Erasmus+, you will not be alone! As we explained before, your AEGEE antenna can become a partner in an Erasmus+ project, get involved in it and send participants, right? It also happens the other way around: you need partners to make your own project happen!

The first thing to consider is that you need to partner up with organisations that are similar to yours, and that are somehow related to the topic of your project. For instance, for a project related to social inclusion, you would not really ask an organisation of aerospace engineering students, would you? Therefore, you need to clearly define the aim of your project, and which types of organisations you can partner with. Of course, you can involve and be partners with other AEGEE locals – however, I would strongly encourage you to also find partners that are not AEGEE locals! This will definitely give you a “plus” in the eyes of the National Agency.

on the moveThere are several ways to find partners for Erasmus+. Search for “Erasmus+ partner” on Facebook, and you will find a handful of Facebook groups where you can promote your project and find others who also need partners. Most importantly, you need to think how to involve these partners: will they be taking care and supporting you with the content? Will they take part in the participants’ selection? How (and how often) will you communicate with them?

That must have been a lot of information for you! Explaining Erasmus+ shortly is not an easy task. Because of this, the Comité Directeur is always available to help and answer all your questions. So, if you have any other questions, do not hesitate to approach me at communications@aegee.org! Another great source of information is the UK National Agency of Erasmus+, or check the information of your National Agency in your own language.

Written by Anna Gumbau, Communications Director of AEGEE-Europe 2015-2016


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