The plan to lure students away from their home countries will be attractive for British students

Sunday October 9,2011
By Nick Harding and Hilary Douglas

THE EU is to spend £13billion on a drive to attract almost a million students to study abroad. The move comes as much of the European community is in financial meltdown.

The plan to lure students away from their home countries will be particularly attractive for British students faced with tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.

Much of the money will be used over the next eight years to offer students, teachers and researchers grants to help fund their study, accommodation and travel to other EU nations.

The Youth On The Move scheme was highlighted last week by EU Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. During a presentation she spoke to London schoolchildren about the ­advantages of moving abroad to study. Brussels bureaucrats hope the grants will entice 800,000 students away from their home nations and help them to pick up new skills.

The idea is this will improve the future effectiveness of the European workforce, which analysts say is poorly equipped to compete with the skill levels of workers in the US and the Far East.

The forecast for future levels of education in the EU is bleak. By 2020, 35 per cent of all jobs in the EU will require high-level qualifications.

Only 26 per cent of the workforce is educated to this level and the EU has high levels of early school leavers.

The spending on the scheme represents a 73 per cent increase in funding on similar ideas in the past.

Speaking at a WorkSkills conference in London on Friday, Ms Vassiliou, said: “Children who learn a second language benefit from increased problem-solving skills and do better in school.

“They also improve communication skills and critical mindset, which makes them more adaptable and more employable. Studying foreign languages opens up more career possibilities.”
Last year, 27,500 Britons received EU grants compared to more than 52,000 in France and 63,000 in Germany.”

Ms Vassiliou said: “Young people in the UK are not making the most of the opportunities on offer to spend part of their studies or training abroad.

“Some are perhaps put off because they think that their language skills might not be up to it, but that’s the whole point of doing this.

“You don’t have to be brilliant and your languages will improve much quicker than you think.”

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