Participation fee for Erasmus+ projects – should it be charged?

Most probably you were already in situation where you had to pay the participation fee to take part in Erasmus+ project, in your home country or abroad. Even if you didn't, you've probably heard of it and realized it varies, depending on the sending/receiving organization, project, country etc. If you have some doubts, in this article we will try to clarify how is regulated the question of participation fee: should it be charged, and if yes - how much.

First, let's make it clear in which cases the participation fee will be usually charged.

Sending organization

Organization from your country which sends you to a project. Usually they charge the fee if they are providing technical help in booking tickets, arranging insurance, preparations etc.

Receiving organization

Organization in charge of implementation of the project. Usually will charge fee for extra costs out of Erasmus+ budget such as materials, additional excursions etc.

Both organizations

Sometimes you will be charged twice, if both sending and receiving organization decide to put the participation fee as a condition to apply / participate in project.

The amount of participation fee will vary; from symbolic amounts of 10-20 EUR which are pretty much acceptable in all participating countries, to high amounts where your head starts to hurt (such as 100-150 EUR), but it still seems as a good opportunity to spend 7 days abroad. They are sometimes charged as an individual project fee, a donation or as monthly/yearly membership fee for the charging organization.

Although sometimes it seems resonable, there has been a lot of  polemics whether it is allowed to chage the participation fee to take part in the project. We gave it a shot and brought some conslusions. 

Erasmus+ Programme is primarily regulated by Erasmus+ Programme Guide, where you can find all relevant information about the Programme itself, participants, organizations, costs etc. For every core area of the Programme, there is a special section dedicated to costs. Is there any mention of the participation fee? Not really.

Namely, such sections are dedicated to costs which you can claim as an organization when applying a project. There are fixed amounts of money determined for accommodation and food of the participants (organizational expenses), travel expenses, various exceptional costs etc. By receiving such money from Erasmus+ fund, the project organizer will be able and obliged (!) to pay for your basic project costs: travel tickets up to a pre-defined limit, accommodation, food, basic working materials.

pexels-photo-386009 (1)

Travel expenses

Fixed limit depending on the distance between sending and hosting location. The distance is calculated through European distance calculator.

Startup Stock Photos

Organizational costs

Fixed amount of money, calculated per person per day, depending on hosting country. Includes costs of accommodation, food, working materials etc.

Preparation for the trip on wood , Retro effect, filters, color toning, travel concept

Exceptional costs

Visa-related costs, costs of Advanced Planning Visit, costs of participation of young people with fewer opportunities, costs of providing a financial guarantee

pexels-photo-573315

Special needs

Additional costs directly related to participants with disabilities and accompanying persons (for additional travel and organizational support)

But what about the participation fee?

Quite often, the gaps in the official regulations of the Programme are substituted with practices of European Commission, or by National Agencies as executive bodies of the Programme. As participation fees can be found in almost every country taking part in Erasmus+ Programme, which also significantly vary depending on the project and organization, it is very hard to conclude that there is a unified opinion of the official bodies when it comes to charging participation fee.

So is it allowed then?

Well, most of the things function on the principle "if it's not strictly forbidden, it's allowed", and basically that is the situation here. Charging participation fee from the side of above mentioned organizations is not forbidden, but we can of course discuss whether it is justified.

Namely, when speaking about additional costs, we have to bear in mind that Erasmus+ is designed to allow participants with different cultural, social, religious and other backgrounds to equally take part in opportunities it offers. Special focus is on including young people with fewer opportunities, who in comparison with their peers have less chance to take part in international activities.

On the other side, Erasmus+ envisages fixed amounts of money per each cost category of the project, where in some cases it can over-finance particular project (if organizational costs are low for the organizer, and there is money left from organizational and/or travel expenses), fully finance (just the right amount of money to cover all of the costs) or co-finance it (if organization has to provide additional financial resources to implement the project). In latter cases, the most common mean of acquiring such additional funds will be participation fees.

Of course, there are the cases where the project is fully or even over-financed, and you would still be charged a fee (for some additional expenses such as extra materials, tourist excursions, extra meals etc., or without any specific reason). Unfortunately, there is still no efficient mean to control whether justified purpose really exists, you need to trust the organization you are paying to.

Therefore, when deciding upon determining (organizations) or paying a fee (participants), take into account al of this elements and decide if it's worth it. Sometimes the extra work of the organization you're paying to is, of course, a good reason to additionally support the project. Sometimes it is just an excuse to earn some extra money, which is definitely not the purpose of the Erasmus+ Programme. 

Erasmus+ is a big community, and we believe it should be based on fair-play. Futhermore, it should be based on quality and equal opportunities for all. It's not just black and white - as we described above, we believe both of the options are acceptable, only if properly justified. 

Until some new regulations appear - just be smart and fair.

What is your experience? Would you agree with what is said? What is your opinion?

Comment below!

4 Comments

  1. Mara

    Hello dears,

    I had that topic/ question quite often when I organized Ka1 projects. The coordination team discussed the topic is almost every project we have. I quite agree with what you’ve wrote – Erasmus+ programmes must be based on transparency for everyone. We never took more than 30eur fee (with for instance for polish participants in general, is quite a lot of money, if they are young participants without job, etc). Of course, when we have participants asking about it and explaining that the amount is too high, we try to understand the situation in particular, being fair with the rest of the people.
    We’ve decided to ask for particiation fee, when we are HO, when we have extra spents which the project budget doesn’t cover. For instance, if you do an animation TC and it will require more materials than paper, pens, etc; and if the participants will create their own materials to take home, so those are the cases when we ask for the fee. It means, when we have spends with materials that the participants can take with the afterwards and use in their organisations with their youth. Another reason is when we have extra trips, as you said, and we have costs with them which we cannot cover. That’s another reason to ask for a fee.
    If those cases don’t happen, we resigned from asking for fee.
    In any case, this was a topic I’ve discussed very often with different people in different organisations and I am glad to read an article trying to explain this topic. Thanks really a lot for you post.

    Regards,

    Mara R.

    1. rgalovic

      Hey Mara, thank you for commenting!

      We completely agree when it comes to the need of charging additional fees for good reasons. Namely, we understand that in sometimes it is quite tight to cover all of the basic cost and to provide additional materials and services for the participants. As you’ve mentioned, it’s in the end all about transparency – if you properly justify the fee to the potential applicants and to the other partners in the project, then all of the sides can adapt and the participants will not fill used in the end. We faced situations where we would discuss the fee on the project we’ve organized – we didn’t ask for any fee, but it turned out that sending organization were charging their participant from 20 to 100 eur. Of course, it affects the attitude of participant towards the project because, although they should be, they are not equal – if Erasmus+ is all about the same chances for everyone (especially for youth with fewer opportunities), then such things shouldn’t happen in practice.
      We hope that, with constant efforts, transparency will become an integral part of Erasmus+, creating more responsibilities both for organizations and individuals.

  2. Yvonne

    I agree that the participation fee needs regulation. Higher participation fees should be asked if the erasmus + funding is not enough, this applies to the host organisation. However, what I don’t fully grasp is why sending organisations ask for 100+ fee. They don’t do any effort. They just cooperate with the host organisation, answer a few questions here and there, thats it.
    I saw one organisation, they also offer volunteering for 3+ months and ask for 120 euro. the same amount for the youth exchanges. 120 euro for a week vs 120 euro for 3 or more months… do you see the difference?
    I get that organisations need some kind of income, at least for the effort. However for my very first project I paid nothing, I even would have been ok to pay my flight expenses because I was so interested in the topic. It has just become common to ask for participation fees, especially on western european countries.
    I have also taken part in volunteering projects not funded by erasmus + and they asked for participation fees. in my eyes its reasonable because all the money come from donations and they are an renowned organisations. the organisations which do erasmus+ however are mostly founded the past years and only for youth projects, so to say only because of erasmus+.
    I love the idea of youth projects and attending, but I’ve seen different scenarios. My last one felt like a holiday and the participants also saw it as one.

    1. rgalovic

      Currently it’s all kind of “grey zone” within Erasmus+. It is understandable that European Commission and National Agencies some things just leave to the case, basically to regulate by themselves, but with the fees sometimes it’s just not functioning. The budget can be easily allocated from the applicant to the partner organizations for the costs of selecting and preparing participants etc. However, it has become a practice that all of the money is left for the hosting organization to use it according to their wishes. We understaqnd that from the standpoint of sending organization, which is also doing a part of the job, such solution is quite often not very convenient and that they are trying to compensate their work by charging participation fees. However, then it should be based on the real need and there shouldn’t be cases where both sending and receiving organization are charging fee at the same time.
      We definitely think that more transparency within Erasmus+ would contribute to more fair-play and quality, because being able to have insight into the work of organizations, quality of projects and efforts of particular participants would make the whole Erasmus+ community more responsible towards each other. And that’s exactly what we are trying to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *