European Union out to get more Kenyans study abroad

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This year’s edition of the Erasmus+ study in Europe Fair, was hosted at the University of Nairobi, Great Court Square, serving as a great platform for students to learn of the opportunities available to them to study, work and live in a European country.

Erasmus+ is an EU flagship program that has been running for more than 30 years, helping students to enrich lives and open minds in education, training, and sports in Europe. The program encourages applications for scholarship and exchange program opportunities for undergraduate students wishing to pursue master’s degrees in member countries from the European Union.

This program speaks directly to Kenya’s National Education Sector Support Program and Vision 2030 – the development of a middle-income economy in which all citizens have enhanced entrepreneurship, innovation, and lifelong learning opportunities.

Additionally, it facilitates beneficial interactions between students willing to further their studies abroad within the 10 member states in Europe – Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, UK, Italy, Hungary, France, and Ireland that offer the Erasmus+ experience.

The Erasmus+ scholarship has great benefits for its students; the students get to study in more than one country, therefore, offering rich cultural, linguistic, and networking opportunities. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree, (EMJD) is internationally recognized as a prestigious, integrated, international study program which opens abundant employment chances for its alumni. The program offers a chance for the students to gain first-class skills and expertise in their fields of study as well as the opportunity to learn from some of the best professionals in Europe.

In 2019, only 13 Kenyans received the Erasmus Scholarship, despite Kenya boasting of a well-educated workforce. The Erasmus Plus event has numerous success stories around the world with close to 2000 students offered scholarships, and Kenya being one of them. The event at the University of Nairobi (UON) is important to encourage potential applicants before the Erasmus application period closes in February 2020.

The EU ambassador the Kenya Mr. Simon Mordue noted that this low uptake was a concern especially on the impact such a programme has on the students who undertake it.

“When I arrived here I asked my colleagues how many Kenyans benefited from this and I was informed it was just ten. I asked how many benefited from the Erasmus Mundus programme in the last 15 years and I was told, 140. This is such a fantastic opportunity and we need to market to reach more people,” noted Mr. Mordue who is himself a beneficiary of the Erasmus Mundus.

The EU ambassador also noted that there is research that has shown that students who have spent a year of study abroad have a 23 percent lower chance of remaining unemployed than their local counterparts noting that employers are keen on diverse experience gained with students interacting with foreign culture and education.

Speaking during the event, the German Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Annett Gunter observed that Germany was on the lookout for Kenyan students with her country offering quality education with a close link to industry job requirements.

“There is more to Germany than good Mercedes Benz or BMW. Germany is the fourth most popular destination for international students. This is not without a reason, there is a lot of excellent research and teaching with a close link between theory and practice and there is a lot of potential for international students to fully develop,” noted Ambassador Gunter.

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