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Erasmus in the post-pandemic EU: Part 1

As an American who moved to Europe many years ago, I have learned a lot about European culture. Besides being jealous of many facets of European life like healthcare and vacation time, one feature of the continent that I have always respected is the Erasmus programme. The name is a pseudo-acronym for “EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students”. The programme is essentially a student exchange programme that helps international students easily study throughout the continent. As of 2014, 27 years after its creation, the programme has promoted the mobility of more than 3.3 million students within the European community Nothing of the sort exists in the United States, and that is a shame. But there is one problem with Erasmus: European students have too many choices! This article looks at recent cost-of-living data to show the differences among potential Erasmus locations, thereby also giving an insight into the economic situations in various countries.

In addition to the general problem of inflation throughout the EU, there is now an increase in the price of rents and basic supplies such as water, electricity and heating. The Erasmus programme divides the destinations into three large groups of countries, depending on whether the standard of living is high (for which they will grant 310 euros of monthly aid), medium (260 euros) or low (210 euros). In addition to this aid, which in all cases is not enough to make ends meet, an additional 250 euros can be added if certain conditions are met, as well as the aid provided by the autonomous communities, some universities, and some private entities.

Under these circumstances, Luxembourg is the least affordable destination for students, with a minimum price per room of 1,660 euros including expenses, according to data compiled by Wise, a fintech specializing in international transfers. The average cost of living in that country in purchasing power parity amounts to 2,373 euros per month, an amount that is seven times that of the Erasmus scholarship and which has increased in the last year due to an average inflation of 8.6%. The most prohibitive countries also include Ireland (1,422 euros per room), Iceland (1,193), Liechtenstein (1,028 euros) and Norway (1,026 euros).

Of the countries to which an average cost of living is attributed, endowed with grants of 260 euros per month, the Netherlands is the most expensive (1,152 euros minimum to rent a room and 1,847 euros for a month’s subsistence), in addition to suffering one of the highest inflation rates in the EU, 16.8% in October, according to the latest data released by Eurostat. It is followed by Malta and Germany, where a room costs a minimum of 906 and 862 euros, respectively.

“In the bracket of countries with average cost of living, the overall average inflation is 9.6%, and that of rents is 23.7%. The most severe is in the Netherlands, where Eurostat determines inflation above 45% in rents and the minimum cost per room including expenses is €1,152 per month, according to Numbeo. In this segment, even the country that ranks as the cheapest, Greece, with a minimum of 516 euros per month per room, has an inflation rate of 33.4% in rents” explain the Wise experts.