Newly published report shares why EU students are failing to take advantage of Erasmus Mundus Scholarships
29 July 2013
The EM-ACE project supported by the European Commission has concluded
that the high quality international postgraduate programmes of Erasmus
Mundus (EM) are not being sufficiently well marketed to attract top
students, particularly in the EU. Whilst the number of EM programmes
continues to grow, there are still unfilled scholarship places, and a
slight decline in applicants. After surveying over 2300 students and
staff across Europe and beyond, the project confirmed that finance and
lack of marketing are the two key problems.
Non-EU students get much more funding to study the same course in the
same country as EU students. However, lack of promotion and branding
was the second main reason for low applications. There is no central EC
marketing strategy for Erasmus Mundus, universities often have no
marketing plans or resources for the scheme, and there is no agreement
over key messages or brand. Universities de-prioritize their own
students or EU students over non-EUs, and fail to pass the message on
internally about the benefits of international masters offered by EM.
The brand EM is felt to be fairly well known, but also confusing because
of its similarity to the Erasmus Programme, and the lack of a clear
sense of what it offers.
Students say EM marketing materials are not
adequate, and whilst the web is the most important communications tool,
the European commission EM website is mainly written for universities,
not for students. Although EM is one of the biggest global scholarship
schemes, giving students the chance to study in two or three locations,
with the imprimatur of the European Commission, students say employers
have often not heard of Erasmus Mundus and it is poorly promoted outside
Universities also suggested they needed help with
creating marketing strategies for their wider courses, as well as EM,
and would welcome practical support. The value proposition of EM needs
better articulation and communication.
National structures (NS) say that the target of EM
is non-EU students, so they are not focused on attracting EU students.
There is some hesitation for NS to engage in more marketing activities
directed at EU students whilst the proposition and scholarships are
targeted mainly at Non-EU students.
Lack of well-trained mobile European students has implications for
Europe’s future workforce, and prevents EM from being as competitive a
scheme, or as strong a brand, as it could be. Louise Simpson, director
of HE consultants, The Knowledge Partnership, and editor of the report
"Students who take the programme love Erasmus Mundus, but they
feel it is rather a well-kept secret – a lot more could be done to
support and extend the brand and give it saliency with both employers
and prospective students. Staff know it needs more promotion but they
don’t always know how to even start to create a marketing strategy. This
might have been okay 5 years ago, but in a world where some countries
have really advanced international marketing and recruitment, Europe
must step up its game and be proactive in appealing to the top students.
It also has a responsibility to get the message out that studying in
another country and culture is one of the most important attributes for
The project includes recommendations to help improve market Erasmus
Mundus, as well as a new website aimed as students as well as staff,
www.em-ace.net. A toolkit to create some benchmarks for good
international marketing is one of the practical outputs, which will be
available for free for all universities. This will be discussed and
tested at EAIE conference in Istanbul, Wednesday 11 September, and then
refined in project partner universities through 2013/14.
The full EM-ACE report is available here.
For more information contact:EM-ACE Team, Sapienza University of Rome.
Press release by Louise Simpson, The Knowledge Partnership