Autism-Europe, together with the project coordinator Erasmus Student Network and 20 other organisations in the field of youth mobility, students mobility and disability, met in Brussels on the 27-28 of September for the kickoff meeting of the Inclusive Mobility Alliance.
The project aims at fostering the concept of Inclusive Mobility through the creation of a sustainable alliance working on the issue. It will notably develop concrete recommendations on how to make the next Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027 more inclusive. Running from September 2018, this six-month project is funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme.
At this first meeting, discussion and various working sessions were held to identify existing resources, sharing experiences and pinpointing bottlenecks and limitations, brainstorming on solutions and drafting concrete recommendations and a position paper. An international conference in the European Parliament is foreseen in December 2018 to present the outputs of this project.
Why an Alliance for Inclusive Mobility?
Generally speaking, students with disabilities are largely underrepresented when it comes to student exchange programmes like Erasmus+. According to figures provided by the European Commission, from 2012-2013, out of the 268 143 students taking part in the Erasmus+ exchange, only 388 were registered as having the special grant for students with disabilities, only 0.14%.
This alliance was born from the observation that the number of students with disabilities taking part in Erasmus+ has been almost stagnating since 2007, while the number of young people experiencing Erasmus+ exchanges is increasing rapidly. The question of the inclusiveness of one of the flagship EU programmes has been raised many time over the past few years. Despite many efforts made, Erasmus+ is still considered by many as a rather elitist programme.
During a meeting organised at the European Parliament on the 5th of December 2017 hosted by MEP Damiano Zoffoli, the stakeholders involved agreed to create an alliance of organisations working on the topic of Inclusive Mobility. AE Vice-president Pietro Cirrincione made his presentation on the specific challenges of autistic students.