Erasmus+ funding explained

When the UK was part of the European Union Erasmus funding was available to support projects for young people in the community. Unfortunately, since leaving the EU, the UK is no longer part of the Erasmus scheme. But, in case you’re curious, here’s how it used to work.

A young woman is leaning on a gate. She is thinking about Erasmus funding. This is a wide-angle image.

Before starting we should note that alternative options do exist for funding community projects. To find out about some of them, take a look at our article on how to get funding for a community project here. And if you want to know how the Erasmus funding programme used to work in the UK, then all you have to do is read on.

What did Erasmus+ funding pay for?

In the UK, Erasmus funding was available for ‘Youth Initiative’ projects. Cool – but what is Erasmus funding and youth initiative projects? Well, the first thing to say is that Erasmus was most definitely not a national agency.

Essentially, Erasmus funding is (was in the UK) the European Union scheme, run by the European commission, that helped young people to start youth initiative projects. Now, a Youth Initiative is a project that’s created and run by young people. The fund was open to anyone of higher education age. That means between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 15-18 as long as you have help from an adult). It gave young people the opportunity to organise, take responsibility for, and manage the budget of your own project. Not to mention they would also help young people train, study and volunteer abroad. 

What projects did people set up?

Pretty much anything you wanted – as long as it helped the community. This could range from activities like forming a weekly discussion group, to educating and training youth in sport and music classes.

For instance, Catherine Mugonyi and six of her friends, created Aunty Social. This was a cultural club where young people could get involved in craft workshops, watch films and socialise. When we asked her what her inspiration for the project was, she said that “I was basically just looking for something for young people to do in the evening that didn’t involve going to the pub,” 

How did people apply for Erasmus+ funding ?

Most people enlisted the help of a ‘coach’ (youth worker) to support their application. Typically you would:

  • Go on the website and work out which type of funding opportunity was best suited to the idea. That way you could make sure it was eligible.
  • Then, you would get in touch with a local youth worker to guide you through the rest of the process.

Before Catherine and her team applied for funding they tested out their idea on Facebook. “Once we knew there’d be a demand for it we approached a youth worker, Buzz Bury, and looked into applying for a Youth in Action grant.”

It’s important to mention that having a coach isn’t crucial to the scheme. You can totally go it alone. But having someone to offer support throughout the project and take you through the tricky application process was helpful. “Buzz made sure we’d completed our form correctly, down to the tiniest detail,” says Catherine.

Setting up a Erasmus project

Getting an Erasmus project off the ground involved practical things. This included sorting out any insurance needed, setting up a bank account, and working out the costs of essentials, like equipment, a hall or materials.

That’s where the coach would’ve come in handy. You see, they typically helped with this. But that wasn’t your only lifeline. You could also get advice from local Community Interest Companies (like social enterprises for example).

What was the benefit of running a community project with Erasmus?

Being involved in the community, meeting new people, and learning new skills were just a few of the benefits. “My confidence has grown so much, and I feel like I’m actually doing something valuable with my time,” says Catherine. “Especially as we put on more workshops, get more of our participants to blog and tweet, and come up with more ideas for activities; they love it.”

Catherine’s tips for starting a Youth Initiative

Even though Erasmus funding is no longer available in the UK, Catherine’s tip are sure to help you with any community project or Youth Initiative:

  • “Feedback is essential,” says Catherine. Make sure you do some local research locally to see if people are interested in your idea.
  • Please contact youth workers about the practical issues, and get a coach to help you fill out any forms.
  • Get your ‘housekeeping’ in order before you make an application. “Make sure you set up the bank account and get your paperwork sorted out. Trust me, it’ll save a lot of hassle when you’re trying to get your project up and running,” says Catherine.
  • Spread the word in your community. Once people know what you’re doing you’ll be surprised at how generous they can be. “It’s amazing how many people and organisations out there want to help and support you,” says Catherine.

What has replaced Erasmus funding in the UK?

With the UK now no longer a member of the EU, Erasmus funding has sadly stopped. However, as of September 2021, the UK government has introduced the Turing Scheme as a replacement for the Erasmus funding programme. The TL;DR is that loads of what was involved with securing funding and running a programme under the Erasmus programme also applies to the Turing Scheme. So you’ll still be getting roughly the same as an Erasmus grant amount. 

Essentially, The British council, the government and ecroys in the UK have teamed up again (they were the ones who helped organise Erasmus) to create a programme of education that helps train and educate UK young people of any household income, a.k.a. The Turning scheme. It essentially provides young people the opportunity to study and/or work abroad throughout and beyond the academic year – for example, if you’re doing a work placement it might last longer than the typical school year. You can learn more about the Turing Scheme here.

Next Steps



By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 05-May-2022