04 May 2017

The nuts and bolts: mid-term evaluation of Erasmus+

The Erasmus+ programme was launched in 2014 to streamline education, training, youth and sport actions into one single programme and runs until 2020. Erasmus+ nurtures and funds numerous student and staff mobility schemes as well as regional and international collaboration. The European Commission is responsible for designing and implementing a mid-term evaluation of the programme which will be submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions in December 2017. This blog post highlights the nuts and bolts of the Erasmus+ programme evaluation process.

What is the purpose of the mid-term evaluation?

The Erasmus+ mid-term evaluation will:

  • Be used to improve the current implementation of Erasmus+
  • Serve as part of the evidence for the final review of the programme in 2020
  • Inform the design of a new programme in 2020 and beyond

What is the scope of the mid-term evaluation?

The review will evaluate programmes, projects and actions from 2007 to 2016. Although the current Erasmus+ programme began in January 2014, the mid-term evaluation will include the long-term impact of predecessor programmes (2007-2013) such as Erasmus Mundus and Tempus.
 
There are three dimensions of the evaluation that will feed into the final evaluation:
 
National reports
A guidance note with a standard list of questions was sent to national agencies in February 2016. All national reports are expected to focus on decentralised implementation, but may include centralised national actions when applicable. National reports will be completed by June 2017, although some are already finalised, for example, the Netherlands report is already available online.
 
EU consultation
In 2016 ICF consulting was selected to perform the EU centralised evaluation which will result in a comprehensive report in October 2017. The methodology of this evaluation includes programme data analysis, desk research, media analysis, surveys, interviews, an expert panel and case studies.
 
Open public consultation
An open public consultation gathers feedback from all stakeholders, including the general public, via an online questionnaire. The questionnaire is available in all EU languages and anyone can participate. It opened in late February and runs until 31 May 2017, so there is still time to make sure your voice is heard. The aim is to capture the views of those who have not participated in other surveys related to the mid-term evaluation.
 
In addition to the formal evaluation, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission has explored the prospect of conducting a counterfactual impact evaluation wherein statistically similar people who did not participate in Erasmus+ are compared with programme participants.

What will the mid-term evaluation measure?

Six criteria will be assessed in the various dimensions of the evaluation:

  1. Effectiveness short- and long-term outcomes and impacts
  2. Efficiency of implementation, focusing on inputs and outputs (e.g. cost efficiency and programme management)
  3. Relevance of the Erasmus+ objectives and needs
  4. Internal and external coherence
  5. European added value compared to what could be achieved by Member States only
  6. Simplification

2017 Timeline

31 May         Open public consultation closes

30 June        National reports submitted

July              EU consultation submitted

December    Final evaluation submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social                                          Committee and the Committee of the Regions

Other evaluations

Several other associations and stakeholders from the European educational community have responded to the mid-term evaluation by implementing their own independent reviews of the programme. Below are a few examples of other evaluations taking place in parallel to the official mid-term evaluation:
 
The European University Association (EUA), an association representing European universities, launched a public consultation in February and March 2017 to assess their member’s experiences with Erasmus+. EUA along with its members will use the findings to create recommendations for the 2020 successor programme. The final report can be accessed here: EUA member consultation: A contribution to the mid-term review.
 
The Lifelong Learning Platform, an umbrella organisation of over 40 organisations in the fields of education, training, and youth, conducts an annual survey about the Erasmus+ programme, the 2016 survey results can be found here: annual Erasmus+ implementation survey.
 
Neth-er, an association of eight educational organisations in the Netherlands, created a position paper for the mid-term evaluation.

Future

After the final mid-term evaluation is submitted, the European Commission will submit a proposal in mid-2018 outlining a successor programme to the current Erasmus+ programme. While the mid-term evaluation is a long process, it is a way to take stock of the lessons learned from the predecessor and current programmes and at the same time begin preparing for the next generation programme.
 
Following this evaluation is important for the field of international education for a couple of reasons. First, many of us benefit from the programmes included in the Erasmus+ programme. Second, on a regional level the Erasmus+ programme has helped to define European policy on internationalisation.
 

Leasa Weimer is Knowledge Development Adviser at the EAIE.