In reaction to the repressions and state violence following the 2020 presidential election, the EU has stepped up targeted assistance to civil society, including youth, adopting a €24 million assistance package, which will benefit directly the Belarusian people, in particular civil society, youth and small and medium-sized enterprises. While the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Belarus, and Belarus has suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership, a number of opportunities remain available for young Belarusians, both within the country and abroad.
If you are a student
The EU offers a wide range of study opportunities through the Erasmus+ programme, including student exchanges in European universities at bachelor, master and doctoral levels – the exchanges will be part of the programme you are following and can last between one term and one year. And your expenses will be covered! You can also apply for an Erasmus+ scholarship to study for a Master’s degree at top European universities.
For exchanges, visit the international relations office at your university – they will tell you which opportunities are available in your subject and will help you to apply.
For a Master’s degree, you need to check out the catalogue of Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, which lists the courses offering Erasmus scholarships in the upcoming academic year (there are 163 courses currently listed), then contact the university to apply for the course and scholarship.
College of Europe Scholarships
The College of Europe offers a large number of scholarships to university graduates coming from Belarus and other countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy for post-graduate studies. Scholarships are also available for students from the Eastern Partnership countries, funded by the EU4Youth programme. Applications for the academic year 2023/2024 will open in October 2022 and close in mid-January 2023. You can pre-register now at coleuropenatolin.eu to receive a reminder about the opening of applications.
European Humanities University (EHU)
Founded in Minsk in 1992, and based in Vilnius since 2005, EHU is a student-centered University for promoting civil society development through Humanities and Liberal Arts for students from Belarus and the region, with most courses taught in Belarusian or Russian. EU grants covering 50% or 100% of the tuition fees are available based on student portfolios that represent academic, civic and creative performance, while the EHU’s Emergency Fund supports students who have been expelled or are otherwise unable to study at Belarusian universities for political reasons. Find out more.
EU4Belarus – SALT (Support for Advanced Learning and Training)
This programme has offered financial support for online courses, qualifications or international exams for repressed or threatened Belarusians, as well as scholarships for Belarusian students at universities in Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Latvia. Both calls are currently closed, but new applications for scholarships will open in 2023. In 2021, 160 scholarships were awarded under the programme, and another 40 were due to be awarded in 2022. Click here to check for any further opportunities under the programme.
Free Belarus University
The Free Belarus University and the Polish Solidarity Fund, with financial support from the European Union, have started an educational project for Belarusians, offering access to independent, high-quality EU education programmes. Over the next two years, 13 free courses will be available for Belarusians interested in improving their professional qualifications or learning more about democratic reforms. Most of the courses will be conducted online, and each course will be validated and certificated by a recognised European institution. The autumn semester 2022 includes three courses, a Mini Master of Public Administration (MPA), a Mini MBA, and Leaders of Change programme. Click here to
Young European Ambassadors
The Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) initiative is a non-political, voluntary, vibrant communication network connecting young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the EU Member States and the United Kingdom. The aim of the network is to raise awareness about the EU’s cooperation with its Eastern partner countries, showcase the tangible results of this cooperation, and contribute to policy dialogue on various topics. There are currently more than 500 active YEAs representing over 34 different nationalities, and the network is open to young people aged between 16 and 26, interested in public diplomacy and outreach activities. There are currently no activities in Belarus, but young Belarusians who have left the country are active in the network in neighbouring or other EU countries. Applications, currently open until 30 September, take place every year, usually in the autumn.
For civil society activists, young leaders and volunteers
Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges
Erasmus+ is not just for students. Indeed, in recent years, thousands of young people and youth workers from Belarus have participated in joint Erasmus+ Youth projects (exchanges, trainings, policy debate, volunteering). Erasmus+ youth exchanges are open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 30, and last between 5 and 21 days. These exchanges take place through youth organisations and you cannot apply directly as an individual. To find out more, contact the Erasmus+ Youth Info Centre in Belarus by visiting their Facebook page, calling 375 33 325-86-54, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
European Solidarity Corps
One way to gain experience abroad is by volunteering through the European Solidarity Corps, with plenty of opportunities open to young Belarusians. This is a unique way to experience different cultures and make new friends, while also helping others and learning new skills. You need to be between 17 and 30 and be willing to spend between two weeks and 12 months abroad. Volunteer projects could be anywhere in the EU or its partner countries, and in fields as varied as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare or the environment. Find out how to apply and check out hundreds of opportunities on the European Solidarity Corps portal.
Civil Society Fellowships
The EU supports young civil society leaders and activists in Belarus and across the Eastern Partnership through its EaP Civil Society Fellowships programme. Every year, the programme helps 20 individual civil society activists in their efforts to achieve positive social change in their communities, offering tailored training, grants of €5,000 and access to networking opportunities. Details about the Fellows selected since the programme began 2017 and their areas of interest can be found here. Applications, currently open until 15 October, usually take place very year in the autumn. Check here for updates.
The EU4Youth Alumni Network brings together young beneficiaries (aged 18-30) of the Erasmus+ Youth and European Solidarity Corps, EU4Youth grant projects, Young European Ambassadors Network as well as other regional programmes targeting young people across the Eastern Partnership. The Network offers Alumni the opportunity to connect with disadvantaged young people in Belarus and support them to become more active in their communities and actively participate in EU mobility programmes. Applications take place once a year, usually in the autumn, with up to 15 alumni selected in each country to participate in the programme for 10 months.
If you are still at school
Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges
Erasmus+ is not just for students: the programme also offers youth exchanges, and these are open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 30. Activities could involve workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, outdoor activities and more. These exchanges take place through youth organisations and you cannot apply directly as an individual. To find out more, contact the Erasmus+ Youth Info Centre in Belarus by visiting their Facebook page, calling 375 33 325-86-54, or emailing email@example.com.
Eastern Partnership European School
The Eastern Partnership European School in Tbilisi offers a two-year International Baccalaureate programme for pupils from all six Eastern Partnership countries, including Belarus, with full scholarships paid by the European Union, including fees, boarding and travel home for holidays. But the number of places is limited – only 35 per year – so you have to meet certain conditions and pass through competitive process in order to apply. Since the launch of the programme in 2018, 145 students have received scholarships for the school, graduating with the IB diploma and going on to study at top universities across the world. The next cohort of students will be recruited to join for the 2023-2025 IB programme.
Young European Ambassadors
The Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) initiative is open to young people from the age of 16, so if you are interested in Europe and its values, want to learn new skills and make new friends, then you can apply to join to join this network that brings together more than 500 young people from the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU. There are currently no activities in Belarus, but young Belarusians who have left the country are active in the network in neighbouring or other EU countries. Note that candidates aged 16-17 can take part in online engagement and local activities in their countries, but not international travel. Applications, currently open until 30 September, take place every year, usually in the autumn.
Internships and training
Erasmus+ supports work placements and internships abroad for Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral students, as well as recent graduates (within one year of your graduation). But your traineeship must be relevant to your degree and, wherever possible, be integrated in your study programme, so check the opportunities with your university. Work placements can last between two and twelve months, and Erasmus+ grants are available to cover your costs.
Blue Book traineeships
Twice a year, the EU offers five-month paid traineeships at the European Commission, its services and agencies, mostly in Brussels, but also in Luxembourg and elsewhere across the European Union. The call is mostly for EU citizens, but a limited number of places are also allocated to non-EU nationals. You can apply if you are a university graduate of any discipline who does not have more than six weeks of experience working in an EU institution, body, agency or delegation, and have a very good knowledge of English, German or French. Find out more.
Schuman Traineeships in the European Parliament
Twice a year, the European Parliament offers different traineeships within its Secretariat, including to applicants from outside the European Union. The traineeships are awarded for a period of five months, and are open to anyone over the age of 18, with a university level diploma. The goal of the Schuman traineeships is to contribute to participants’ European education and vocational training, and to provide an insight into the work of the European Parliament. The deadlines for application are at the end of May and October every year. Click here to find out more.
Women in Tech
The Women in Tech Programme is aimed at supporting Belarusian women in IT, encouraging research, and fostering gender equality in the field of high technology. With EU support, the project offers online courses and research opportunities for Belarusian women at the European Humanities University in Vilnius, such as the free three-month Login to Tech programme aimed at women who want to start a career in IT, but don’t know where to start. Other IT courses and mentoring programmes will soon also be available.
The EU4Youth programme will soon launch a series of projects aimed at developing digital skills among young people, especially in disadvantaged communities, and for the development of social entrepreneurship and career management skills, linked to the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in the green and digital economies. Under the previous wave of EU4Youth projects, dozens of schools in Belarus participated in the School Garden project, which also established business-incubators for teaching modern agriculture to youth in disadvantaged rural areas, providing training and materials to hundreds of young Belarusians. Follow the EU4Youth page for upcoming opportunities.
More news and opportunities for the Eastern Partnership region are available at the website of EU NEIGHBORS east.