Erasmus+ Application Guide I – Getting Started

Subscribe to Our Blog

Top View of Boot on the trail with the text Whats Your Next Step?

Here is a guide for you and your client to start the application process in the best way. The guide applies to Erasmus+ however many guidelines also apply to Turing Scheme as well.

Setting Objectives

The objectives you present are the basis of the project. They set the tone and illustrate the overall vision you are picturing for your organisation. This is because, whatever objectives you present must correspond with certain activities and results. Getting the objectives section right is crucial for ensuring the overall flow of the application. There are a number of objectives that are commonly used such as:

  • Improving learning performance
  • Broadening the career paths for students
  • Increasing the foreign language competencies of students
  • Promoting entrepreneurship
  • Building intercultural awareness

Whether you are selecting one of the objectives above or another overarching theme, what strengths your application is if this general objective includes a niche area of focus. For example, if you are improving learner performance, try to target a SPECIFIC aspect of learning that you wish to promote – it could be skills in STEM subjects or ICT skills.

If you are working towards boosting foreign language competences, again clarify what competencies exactly – are you focusing on conversational, everyday phrases and vocabulary or the knowledge on specific scientific or business terms.

If the focus is on environmental awareness, again what is the topic of interest – is it alternative sources of energy, sustainable methods of production or adaptability to changing socio-economic realities?

If the application is more training or VET-focused, do not be vague and refer simply to the need for internships or work experience or job shadowing. Go deeper and pin-point the advantages of the training taking place e.g. pursuing skills-building in organisational capabilities and office management, advancing techniques in human resources, cultivating approaches to crisis management. This will convince the National Agency that the assigned internship leads to development in a particular technical / academic / professional area.


European Development Plan

The broader aim of Erasmus+ programmes is to support the internationalization of education however, emphasising that aim only in any application is not enough. Beyond that, there are more specific priorities set by the European Commission. Currently, they are pursuing the following:

  • Inclusion and Diversity
  • Digital Transformation
  • Participation in democratic life, common values and civic engagement
  • Environment and fight against climate change

Making an application that addresses all four is not a wise option however, it’s important to take the project objectives and see how they align with one or two of the priorities so that the National Agency is able to identify valid reasons for funding the cause.

A reminder that commitment to priorities should not be superficial: the application needs to clarify what actions will be taken and which target groups will be affected by meaningful changes that will fulfil a priority. For example, if the priority is participation in democratic life, present concrete actions that promote this goal e.g. debating procedures among students, practising voting on key issues, observing different manifestos created by students, creating committees where each teacher is leading on a different topic.

What also helps the European Development Plan section is if the school has its own plan, to better map out the application and make it more convincing. Schools can then take their long-term strategy and present how the Erasmus+ programmes fits in with a wider vision. It could be a case of promoting the employment of students in the wider labour market, or encouraging independent thinking and travel in young people. Whatever the focus, a school development plan can assist in figuring out the European priorities of the application.

Often a client organisation does not have a European Development Plan therefore try to arrange discussions with the relevant manager or project coordinator to help them define what their wider European goals may be. Topics could include any of the following:

  • Improving academic attainment
  • Improving employability
  • Enhancing the professional development of educators
  • Promoting cultural awareness
  • Improving foreign language skills
  • Building student empowerment, confidence and self-esteem
  • Encouraging employers to provide jobs to workers from other parts of Europe
  • Cultivating a sense of EU/ European citizenship
  • Supporting equality and inclusion so that disadvantaged and special needs students are exposed to further opportunities and equal participation

Aside from choosing an area of focus, there are certain key questions that can assist in fine-tuning the European Development plan that include:

  • Considering the European activities the organisation has completed so far
  • The vision for the school within 5-10 years’ time
  • Clarfiying the mission: defining the actions that will take the organisation towards its vision e.g. staff training, student agency, community work?

A reminder that the objectives selected must cover the following conditions:

  • Strategic: addressing specific targets
  • Measurable: displaying success that can be measured and accounted for e.g. income of organisation, number of participants affected, academic achievements of students
  • Realistic: objectives that are reasonable and therefore achievable

The language of the objectives section must also be concise, clear and incredibly organised. Feel free to use bullet points for listing the objectives but also beginning each new point with a sentence that is direct and to-the-point. Adding numbers will also help to give the section a good flow. Examples include:

  • Our organisation would like to achieve three key objectives...
  • Among these three key objectives, our key focus will be...
  • These objectives align with our wider vision because we feel that....
  • We will evaluate the results by carrying out the following methods...
  • We strongly feel that this project would allow the development of five key competencies...


Meeting Policy Priorities

Many Erasmus+ programmes request that you state the programme priority that is fulfilled by the project objectives. Priorities for European programmes include the following:

HORIZONTAL: Inclusion and diversity in all fields of education, training, youth and sport

YOUTH: Strengthening the employability of young people

HE: Building inclusive higher education systems

Ensure that whatever priority or priorities you choose successfully align with the project objectives and that there is a general consistency and logic to the project focus. For example, if you are choosing inclusion and diversity, be specific in the application about what project results will fulfil that aim e.g. support for disadvantaged students and assistance for disabled students to ensure the participation of persons of different abilities


Celebrating existing achievements

Many Erasmus+ applications ask for information about the organisation’s existing or previous activities in European projects, separate to the application. Here is an opportunity to show a) the dedication of the organisation to European causes b) the success in terms of points awarded and honours received for projects already approved c) the professionalism of the organisation and how they should be supported in additional projects d) the aspects of learning the organisation is already involved in and emphasising that the next application is a new area of focus.


Identifying Target Groups

Sometimes organisations may have certain objectives in mind but not necessarily a clear idea of the potential impact of a project. Often there is the notion that the project will only affect the participants and possibly some of their peers but the ripple effects are often much wider than that. This broader, wide-scale coverage of a project needs to be emphasised in a project in order to give it greater significance and validity.

With the client organisation, it’s important to discuss and outline WHO will be impacted by the project – pupils, teachers, other staff members, the school in its development plan, the governing bodies, local authorities and the region or even country as a whole. In particular, if a project has socio-economic consequences e.g. empowering disabled individuals, providing opportunities to disadvantaged students, promoting travel for individuals restricted by remote regions then this should be clarified in order to elevate the application further.


Identifying areas of improvement

A strong application will demonstrate what improvements will take place in the organisation as a result of a funded project. Again, it may require discussions with the project coordinator of the organisation so that what you present in the application is meaningful, substantial and accurate.

If you are referring to improving staff competencies, you will need to think about the activities not only within the project e.g. job shadowing, but also the further activities that can be enforced in the school such as exchanges of good practice, presentations in staff meetings or a possible mentoring system for new colleagues. Detailed examples like this will convince the National Agency that you are consciously thinking about improvement.

Then once the action plan for improvement is complete, it’s important to double check that these activities serve the objectives presented at the start of the application but that they also fulfil the European development plan priorities that were picked out too.


Promoting the Project Benefits

Related to improvements, there are sections such as ‘Project Summary’ and ‘What are the benefits of the project for transnational partners’ where you need to be clear about WHAT exactly is achieved. Funding will be awarded to projects that present in length and in detail what the relevant advantages are of embarking on this new programme. Therefore the project designer in collaboration with the school will need to have a clear idea of the diversity of benefits. How can you identify the benefits?

  • Consider the objectives of the project and possible results that can come from those e.g. if it’s environmental awareness, it could be a new ‘green mindset’ in the school but do not stop there. Show how it changes the school e.g. the project could lead to the launch of a ‘Love our Planet’ campaign by students, with a series of environmentally-focused activities
  • Consider the target groups and for each, think about the benefits they will receive. For example, the ‘take-aways’ for a student are very different of that of a senior manager. While a student may develop a stronger awareness of different cultures, a senior manager will be able to better edit and adapt their curriculum for the school
  • Separate your project benefits between quantitative and qualitative results. Show how certain achievements are quantitative and can be measured e.g. ensuring that 50% of disadvantaged students embark on an international mobility within five years of starting the project. With other results, you can refer to more qualitative, subtle changes in the school e.g. encouraging more open-minded attitudes in students and a willingness to try new activities. Therefore it must be a combination of tangible and more individual, personal changes


Outlining Motivation for the Project

National Agencies are assessing countless applications – we need to produce content that stands out. A project application with a genuine purpose and real enthusiasm will make a different. You want to get across why THIS particular organisation should receive funding so that means clarifying:

  • What is new and unique about your project – what niche focus does it bring to the table?
  • How far-reaching is the project – what set of effects will it have across the board?
  • How dedicated are you to the project – the organisation needs to show their passion for the suggested activities. This is shared by presenting a variety of benefits that the organisation hopes to receive
  • How does the project contribute to Europe in general – does it provide a new set of opportunities for European citizens and does it encourage new meaningful relationships?

For further information regarding the application process please also read the following blogs: