By Matt Salusbury
This article first appeared in the English language teaching industry trade paper English Language Gazette, March 2008
The European Commission opened applications for its huge European Refugee Fund (ERF) in January this year. In the context of the EU’s English-speaking countries – the UK and Ireland – the fund will make available in its first year €1 million for English classes aimed at migrants to Ireland and other projects aimed at integrating refugees there, and £1.7 million for similar projects in the UK.
The ERF has a total of €759 million (£576 million) for the period 2008–13 to ‘improve the efforts of member states to grant reception conditions’ to refugees. In the UK and Ireland this translates into cash for Esol projects. The UK’s Border and Immigration Agency has invited tenders for projects aimed at refugees, including in its advertising references to ‘local authorities, adult, FE and Community Colleges wishing to offer or expand capacity for Esol courses’. In Ireland it is the Reception and Integration Agency that will distribute ERF money.
The ERF will fund up to 80 per cent of eligible Esol projects, which can last up to three years, with awards ranging from £30,000 up to a maximum of £303,000. Applications for this year’s round close on 31 May. Schemes need between two and 24 partners, all of which must be not-for-profit organisations. The director of an ethnic minority community centre in north London that runs Esol projects told the Gazette he believed community groups would stand a better chance of securing ERF funding if they became part of a bidding consortium with larger organisations.
The ERF succeeds the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals, which in the UK and Ireland provided some funding for Esol and citizenship classes for legal migrants who had arrived from outside the EU in the last five years.
Copyright: English Language Gazette