By Anna Tatham
Delayed Erasmus grant payments from Durham University have left many students living abroad with no additional funding.
Grants can be up to €450 per month for those undertaking work placements, some of which are unpaid, and many use this as a method to pay rental costs and additional expenses associated with living in a foreign country.
The University website claims “students will normally receive their grant at the start of their placement or as soon as funds become available.”
Tom Mitchell had been living in Paris for two months before receiving his grant last week and calls the process “fairly shambolic”.
He told Palatinate: “I just think they risk putting people in really difficult positions and it’s part of a trend of Durham being completely oblivious about students’ finances.”
Erasmus grants differ depending on the duration and type of year abroad placement, as well as the cost of living in the country.
For a typical nine-month study period in the academic year 2017/18, students received a grant of €2,520, which equates to €280 per month.
Maddy Wattles has been studying in Toulouse since 1st October, but has been told she will not receive her grant until mid-November.
“[It] is inconvenient given that my Student Loan doesn’t cover my daily expenses here.
“But I haven’t had it as bad as people who arrived in September, or even earlier, who have had to wait months to receive their grant.
“I think the problem lies with my host university in Toulouse as well, because it took a long time for them to sign all the necessary documents. There should be better communication between Erasmus and the universities abroad.”
The Erasmus+ grant is provided by the European Commission, however, payments are made by the home institution.
Last year many students encountered similar issues with Erasmus grant payments, which, at the time, the University said was due to a staff member leaving the Exchanges & Study Abroad Team.
Students at other Universities, such as York, have told Palatinate they received their grants within two weeks of arriving abroad.
Professor Claire O’Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) told Palatinate: “All students taking part in the Erasmus programme are advised that payment of the Erasmus Grant can take up to a month after a student has met the requirements – through submitting the full grant documentation.
“The process has gone smoothly and we are pleased to say that students can expect their grant instalments within the stipulated timeframe, once all the required documentation has been received by the International Office.
“We offer important financial support to all students who wish to study abroad to help them realise their ambition.
“The Erasmus Grant contributes to the additional costs incurred by living abroad, however, all students taking part in the programme are made aware that it will not cover the full cost of this.”
Photograph: Durham University