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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Hall ticket to Europe: India is leading in targeted EU scholarships

73 Indian students are set to fly abroad this semester under grants from the Erasmus Mundus programme. A look at its growing reach and popularity.

education Updated: Oct 31, 2018 20:19 IST
Aishwarya Iyer
Aishwarya Iyer
Hindustan Times

The Erasmus Mundus programme for post-graduate study seeks to help EU institutes of higher learning expand their reach, by offering grants to students from 128 countries around the world.

India has quickly climbed to the top ranks on that list. From receiving just 5 student scholarships in 2004, to 31 in 2008, the numbers have not dipped below 60 since 2014.

This year, India recorded a 15% increase over the year before in the number of students getting the scholarships, says the panel supervising the Erasmus Mundus programme. The total was 73, the highest tally since the programme’s inception 14 years ago

In 2017, the country came in at second place on the list of largest beneficiaries. While Brazil topped that list, with 79 scholarships, India followed with 63; Iran came in third with 59, Bangladesh fourth with 58 and Mexico rounded off the top 5, with 49 .

  • Erasmus Mundus is a joint initiative of the European Union
  • Launched in 2004, it aims to make the education systems of member countries more effective and innovative
  • As part of the effort to expand their reach, it offers a range of scholarships for post-graduate study, covering 100 subjects from astrophysics and urban studies to cartography and sports ethics
  • Students, research scholars and professionals can apply for the scholarship
  • For the academic year 2018-19, 1,345 scholarships were granted to students from across 128 EU and non-EU nations
  • 73 of these were granted to students from India, a figure that has risen steadily over the years, from 58 in 2009 to 60 in 2014 and 63 in 2017

Since 2004, EU scholarships (including Jean Monnet, Marie Curie PhD programme, Erasmus + and Horizon 2020) have been given out to 5,700 Indian students.

“In the last five years, as per our records, over 1,500 Indian students have benefitted,” says Pavan Sriram, global head and president of Erasmus Mundus scholarships.


Erasmus Mundus and its associated programmes such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and Jean Monnet don’t only benefit students but also support universities and professors partnering with them for study programmes.

For instance, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) has become a Centre of Excellence for Jean Monnet scholarship programmes. “This means the institution will guide other institutes and work with them in building association with European universities so that students aspiring to study in Europe will face fewer barriers and checks,” says Neeta Inamdar, head of the department of European Studies at MAHE.

In exchange, this year, MAHE will launch a Centre of Excellence in European Studies that will focus on India-EU interdisciplinary studies centered on culture, literature, education and society.

“MAHE has received grants worth Rs 15 crore from the EU, facilitating quality learning and research experience,” Inamdar says.

The Department of European Studies at Manipal Academy of Higher Education also offers masters programme in European studies. The two-year course has a first year of studies in Manipal and an option of a second year at a partner university in Europe either with a scholarship or complete fee waiver.

The programme offers three specialisation tracks — European business and economics; European politics and international relations; and European culture and society. “The programme also focuses on providing an opportunity for students to learn at least one European language in their journey to Europe,” says Inamdar.

Similarly, over 300 Indian institutes of higher education have become members of the Erasmus+ programme since 2014, and there is interest in further expanding education collaborations, Tomasz Kozlowski, ambassador for the European Union to India, said in a statement released in August — including the Jawaharlal Nehru University, IIT-Madras and Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.

The ties are expanding to include smaller institutes too, such as the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology in Odisha, Chitkara University in Punjab and World University of Design in Haryana.

Dhiraj Mathur, leader of national education practices at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says the reach of such programmes should not be limited to premier universities. “Given the hardworking nature of Indians, many students bagging the scholarships is not surprising. However, the reach and awareness should be expanded.”

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 20:19 IST