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EU expanding educational links with Russia despite political tension

April 21, 2015, 21:37 UTC+3 ARKHANGELSK
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ARKHANGELSK, April 21. /TASS/. The European Union is boosting financing for joint educational projects with Russia despite sanctions imposed on the country over the crisis in Ukraine, said Vygaudas Usackas, the EU ambassador to Moscow.

Usackas said the 28-nation bloc this year launched a new Erasmus Plus student exchange programme in Russia worth 12 million euros, opening new opportunities for higher education cooperation and mobility.

The EU-financed Erasmus Plus "will allow more than 3,000 Russian students to take part in exchange programmes, studying from three to six months at EU universities," he told an international seminar on internationalisation of higher education at the Northern Arctic Federal University in Arkhangelsk.

"At a time when we have to go through the most difficult period in our relations, this should help to preserve the bridges between people of Europe and Russia," Usackas said.

The seminar in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk was organised within the framework of the EU’s previous Erasmus Mundus programme which aims to enhance the quality of higher education and promote dialogue and understanding between people and cultures through mobility and academic cooperation.

Launched in 1987, Erasmus began as a pan-Europe student-exchange programme. It has since expanded beyond the borders of Europe.

Following the end of the Erasmus Mundus programme in 2013, the EU agreed to increase its budget, setting aside 14.7 billion euros for an expanded Erasmus Plus programme for 2014-2020.

The new programme is expected to support international student exchanges and increased cooperation between European universities and their partners worldwide.

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