Friday 28 November 2014


  • Northern Ireland was awarded £4.5 million for 50 projects through the new Erasmus+ programme. In total, £77.5m was awarded in the UK
  • This was a higher proportion of funding relative to Northern Ireland’s share of the population
  • This is the first year of the programme, managed by the UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK
  •  Erasmus+ will run until 2020
  • From the devolved administrations, Northern Ireland was most successful in applying  for strategic partnerships, with a 29.3% success rate
  • Belfast Metropolitan College was one organisation to benefit, receiving funding to promote peer learning between Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Ireland 


Northern Ireland has gained significantly from the first release of funding through Erasmus+, the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport. 

This first year of the new Erasmus+ European Union programme in the UK, aimed at organisations from the education, training, youth and sport sectors, saw £77.5 million awarded to 818 successful projects in the UK so far. 

In total £4,488,210 was awarded to the Northern Ireland sector, for 50 different projects and this was a higher proportion of funding (5.8%) relative to Northern Ireland’s share (2.8%) of the UK population. 

Of the devolved administrations, Northern Ireland-based organisations were most successful in securing funding for strategic partnerships in the higher education, vocational education and training, adult education, school and youth fields, with 29.3% of applications successful in bidding for £2.3 million of the total funding available to the UK.

The announcement came as Erasmus+, which is managed in the UK by the British Council and Ecorys UK working in partnership as the UK National Agency, held its first annual conference yesterday (Thursday 27 November) at Aston University in Birmingham, when 180 delegates, including guests from Northern Ireland, gathered around the official conference theme of ‘Transitions’ to hear the huge progress over the first year and take part in sector workshops, networking activities and to listen to the experiences of previously funded projects.

Erasmus+ replaced the former Lifelong Learning Programme and Youth in Action programme when it was launched across the EU earlier this year. In the UK around £840 million is being made available over seven years up until 2020.

The first release of statistics show that 46.7% of organisations from Northern Ireland who applied for funding were successful — with more to be announced following a further deadline in October 2014. 

In all there were 107 applications received from organisations across Northern Ireland. Of the 50 successful applications, schools accounted for 15 and the largest proportion, youth had 14, higher education had 10, vocational education and training had eight and adult education had three of the successful applications.

Speaking about Erasmus+, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said: “This is great news for organisations across Northern Ireland and I congratulate everyone who has been successful so far.  Erasmus+ offers a significant opportunity for young people in Northern Ireland to benefit from study, training, volunteering and professional development across Europe. But it also provides opportunities for institutional partnerships and exchange of ideas and best practice.

“Although Northern Ireland has done well in this first year of the programme, I believe that many more organisations can benefit from the programme and still have lots of time to apply before the 2015 deadlines, particularly organisations who may not have been so heavily involved in predecessor programmes such as those working in the arts and creative industries and non-formal educational sectors.”   

Belfast Metropolitan College was one organisation to benefit from the programme. They received £172,000 for a two year project which aims to promote peer learning between Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Ireland. 

Through the collaboration, vocational lecturers working in the IT, hospitality, creative service industries and management, will work together through informal learning opportunities to enhance technical and teaching skills.

Belfast Metropolitan College aims to create a tool kit which will help both vocational lecturers and management get accredited for informal continuous professional development, which they hope to roll out to all colleges in Northern Ireland, as well as share across the vocational and industrial sectors. 

Speaking about the project, Lorraine Lavery, Quality Assurance Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College, said:

“Through this project, we will be working very closely with our partners to develop a number of outputs such as a toolkit and a module to accredit peer learning activities and learn from each other and identify best practice for the future.

“Our staff work extremely hard and we want to give them and vocational lecturers throughout Northern Ireland engaging in informal training activities the recognition they deserve, as well as promote the exchange of peer practices to support the development of new learning strategies in the classroom.”

Also speaking about the project was Dr Mark Brotherston, Curriculum Area Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College.

He said: “Belfast Metropolitan College is committed to continued personal and professional development   and peer sharing; projects such as this enable us to do just that, both internally and across the vocational sector. We are passionate about internationalising the curriculum through collaboration and celebrating cultural diversity at every opportunity. As a result of this funding, everyone in the vocational sector in Northern Ireland will benefit.”

Erasmus+ offers a wide range of opportunities for pupils, students and teachers to participate in partnership and exchange activities across Europe. The programme aims to boost skills and employability while modernising education, training and youth work.

The EU has committed £12 billion to Erasmus+ between 2014 and 2020. During this period Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for over 4,000,000 Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad.  

Deadlines for Erasmus+ 2015 have been announced and can be accessed from The deadline for applications similar to Belfast Metropolitans Key Action 2 grant is March 2015.

The Erasmus+ Programme is just one of a number of programmes available to schools through British Council Northern Ireland. For more information visit, or follow on Twitter at @BCouncil_NI


Notes to Editor

Figures quoted in Sterling were correct as on 28 November 2014 when conversions were calculated between Euros and Sterling.  Please note that Erasmus+ grants are paid to successful applicants in Euros.


1. About Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is the new European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. It significantly increases EU funding (+40%) with an overall budget of €14.7 billion (£12 billion) for the development of knowledge and skills and aims to increase the quality and relevance of qualifications and skills. Two-thirds of its funding will provide grants for more than 4 million people to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad in 2014-2020 (compared with 2.7 million in 2007-2013). The period abroad can range from a few days up to a year. In the UK, it is expected that nearly 250,000 people will undertake activities abroad with the programme. Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of Lifelong Learning, including schools education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector. Erasmus+ provides funding for organisations to offer opportunities to students, teachers, apprentices, volunteers, youth leaders and people working in grassroots’ sport. It will also provide funding for partnerships between organisations such as educational institutions, youth organisations, enterprises, local and regional authorities and NGOs, as well as support for reforms in Member States to modernise education and training and to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability. Erasmus+ replaces the former Erasmus, Comenius, Youth in Action, Leonardo, Grundtvig and Transversal programmes which ran from 2007-2013.

When referring to Erasmus+, please use the phrase `The Erasmus+ UK National Agency is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK`.

Further information from 

2. About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 

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3. About Ecorys UK

Ecorys UK, part of the international research, consulting and management services company Ecorys, provides high-quality communication, research and technical assistance services across education, economic and social policy areas. Ecorys employs over 150 staff in the UK specialising in education and culture, employment and labour markets, economic and international development, communications, public grant managed programmes and capacity building. Our mission is to add value to public service delivery through our experience of the entire policy cycle. 

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About the British Council

For further information or for more interviews, please contact: 

Claire McAuley T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI