EU-AFRICA: African participation in Erasmus Mundus

Since its launch in 2004, 866 African students have benefited from Europe's Erasmus Mundus programme, with a strong increase in the past two years. The participation of African scholars has also risen each year, from four in 2004 to 51 in 2008. Last week, at a gathering of major African and European universities, experts and Erasmus Mundus alumni students in Brussels, an African Chapter of the programme's alumni association was launched.

The conference, held on 4 and 5 December, examined ways to strengthen links between higher education in Africa and Europe and to increase the mobility of students, researchers and teachers between the two continents.

While the number of African students and academics benefiting from the Erasmus Mundus programme has risen considerably, Africa lags behind Asia and the Americas and only 8% of African applicants are selected for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship - the lowest success rate of any world region. Participation rates differ strikingly among African countries, with Ethiopia providing by far the most applicants, the conference heard.

Conference participants debated experience gained from implementing mobility programmes, and sought ways of making optimal use of the new phase of the Erasmus Mundus programme, from 2009 to 2013, which it was hoped would provide increased cooperation for cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe and Africa.

The African Chapter of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association was launched as a means to disseminate information about the programme and the benefits of mobility for professional and personal development. Indeed, targeting information to students and universities in Africa, in an effort to lead to increased African participation in Erasmus Mundus, was one of the key outcomes expected of the conference.

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