Parliament says Switzerland should aim to reintegrate the Europe-wide Erasmus+ exchange programme fully in 2021 when a temporary solution runs out.
After the Senate, the House of Representatives approved on Monday the next round of funding: CHF114.5 million ($116.5 million) to aid Swiss third-level students in spending study and training spells elsewhere in Europe from 2018-2020.
However, parliamentarians were keen to stress that the current institutional arrangement – a stop-gap agreement in place since the EU froze Swiss participation in Erasmus after the anti-immigration vote of 2014 – should not linger longer.
As well as approving the funding, therefore, parliament also adopted a motion by 109 votes to 80 demanding that the government re-open talks with Brussels as soon as possible to find a permanent solution, ideally by reintegrating the Erasmus+ programme (or its successor) in 2021.
This follows an August petition by the Swiss Student’s Union in which it demanded that the country fully reintegrate the scheme in 2018. The current Swiss-organised solution reduces student mobility and is an administrative burden for universities, campaigners said.
Following Monday’s vote in Bern, however, education minister Johann Schneider-Ammann called for patience, saying that any negotiations regarding re-entry will not start before 2020.
He also said that under the EU’s terms, in which national contributions to the scheme are calculated according to a percentage of GDP, becoming a full member of Erasmus+ would cost Switzerland more than the current solution.
In a statement external linkpublished on Monday, the National Youth Council of Switzerland welcomed the House of Representatives' decision saying it offered hope. It urged the State Secretariat for Training, Research and Innovation to now “act swiftly and decisively”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/dos