Battle of the Scholarships: Erasmus Mundus Fellowship vs. the Australian Leadership Award

Throwback Thursday: The beautiful Filipina recipients of the AusAID ALA Scholarship at Parliament House.
Throwback Thursday: The beautiful Filipina recipients of the AusAID ALA Scholarship at Parliament House, 21 March 2011.

Comparing things that are not commensurable isn’t a recommended form of analysis, but I’d like to think that comparing two different types of scholarship programs isn’t too outrageous.

I would have loved a resource such as this three years ago when I was on my hunt-for-a-scholarship, but unfortunately none existed then. So, brilliant idea— I should make one now for future children who may need it! And as a very recent recipient of both the AusAID ALA and the EMJD grants, I do believe I’m a prime candidate to make the assessment.

This handy chart shows the similarities and differences between the two programs. Of course, key differences lie in the fact I experienced the AusAID scholarship for a master’s program and the EMJD for a doctoral dissertation; however, they are both merit-based scholarships offered to “foreign nationals,” both offer double degrees, and both are “complete” in the sense that they attempt to provide for everything a student would need.

With the new Abbott government, the AusAID scholarship program will likely be slashed, which is sad news. Good news is that the EU recently announced the Erasmus+ program— effectively promising four million scholarships in 2014 for citizens of EU Member States, Iceland, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Notably absent, however, are countries such as the Philippines and the rest of the world in general. So either way, prospective scholars should just hurry up and get all their applications in everywhere. No time like the present!

Disclaimer: My point of reference is my personal experience with AusAID in The Australian National University and with EMJD in LUISS specifically. While the particulars such as monetary value are quantitative, I’m sure scholars hosted in other institutions may have varying encounters regarding other matters.

  Erasmus Mundus Fellowship
(LUISS Guido Carli)
Australian Leadership Award
(The Australian National University)
Home Institution/ Degree(s)
LUISS Guido Carli

(PhD in Political Theory and Political Science; unknown second PhD)

The Australian National University

(MA International Relations; Master of Diplomacy)

Mobility Options A secondary university during the second year; potential third university mobility No mobility options
Total Grant*(at time of offer) €85,266.68 (three year contract)equivalent to €28,422.23 per year A$132,495.25 (two year contract)equivalent to A$66,247.63 per year
Visa Application    Do it yourself (DIY)*Possible assistance from host university and/or EU Delegation Handled by The Philippines-Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF)
Pre-departure Requirements None! Complete health checkup with accredited physician (physical exam, urinalysis, blood test, x-ray);

Pre-departure briefing with the Australian Embassy

Travel Funding DIY or Erasmus Mundus Travel Agency “Service Voyages ULB,”

No additional funding from EU provided.No additional funding from LUISS.

Handled by PAHRODF;Additional round-trip home visits for students studying for two years or more (i.e. one roundtrip ticket per two years);

Travel funding worth 2000 AUD available per year per ALA scholar;

Additional funding available from ANU scholarships. (I was able to get an extra A$2000 AUD for the UN Rio+20)

Health Insurance DIY;Process still confusing; you must apply for a family doctor before seeing one (and before getting a doctor you need to apply for a tessera sanitaria);

Appointments are backlogged but essential medicines and bloodtests are FREE— if you can go through the long bureaucratic process. To qualify for freebies, you need to apply for an esenzione ticket.

Card and coverage provided by OSHC Worldcare;Medical visits are covered, as well as blood tests. Prescribed medicines are discounted, and any medical scans (ultrasound, etc.) are reimbursed.*

* only if deemed medically necessary

Upon Arrival     No welcome committee;

One day orientation handled by LUISS;No intensive Italian course (EMJD students do not qualify as “Erasmus” in that sense) but free Saturday Italian courses for ten weeks.

A student volunteer pick up at airport;

Welcome basket from the ANU-AusAID office containing instant noodles, cookies, and other survival items;Orientation and two-three weeks of academic training.

Additional Money 7500€ one-time “Travel and Installation Fund,” available three weeks after opening a bank account 5000$A one-time “Establishment Allowance,” available immediately upon arrival
Monthly Stipend 2800€ per month MINUS TAXES*In actuality, 1600€ per month

Expect a deduction of 200 during December.

2144$A per month, given in biweekly amounts NO TAXES
Bank Account Free to choose your own bank;UniCredit is recommended as it’s the bank connected to LUISS*

No bank fees for students under 30, but there are a lot of other fees (debit card fee, internet fee, percentage charges, etc.)

Opened for you pre-arrival by the AusAID office (Commonwealth Bank)

*No bank fees for students, no other hidden fees (except a percentage charge for overseas debit card transactions)

  1. No dormitory options*
  2. Possible assistance from CasaLUISS, a private housing agency

* may differ in other universities

  1. University dormitory options, must apply online before the school year.*
  2. No additional assistance, but temporary housing upon arrival guaranteed in a university dormitory (two weeks)

* may differ in other universities

Assistance to partner, husband, family, or children (Visa, health, etc.) No assistance and good luck with that! No assistance

*Possible assistance from PAHRODF

Additional Requirements   GEM Annual Conference; GEM Summer School AusAID Leadership Conference; Leadership Development Seminar; (optional) Internship
What If I’m delayed? May extend stay but with no additional funding. May extend stay with additional funding.
And for balance, the 2013 Filipino Erasmus Mundus newbies at the EU Delegation Office, Manila.
And for balance, the 2013 Filipino Erasmus Mundus newbies at the EU Delegation Office – Manila, 29 August 2013.

And as an addendum, AusAID scholars have a return service agreement which means you sign a contract saying you are not to return to Australia for two years post-graduation on pain of forfeiting your scholarship (and refunding the money). The EM grants have no such contract clause.


  • Hello! I am currently applying for an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship (EMTM: European Master in Toursim Management) I was wondering if you had any tips regarding the recommendation letter. I have asked to workmates to make them for me, but are there any ideas that they should have in mind while making them?

    Thank you

    • Hi, Sara! I have a couple of tips:
      (1.) Ask someone who has known you for a longer time, recommendations from people who can state that they’ve known you for years or decades are much better than a recommendation from someone who maybe has a high rank in the school/company but has only known you for a few months;
      (2.) Make sure your letter writers emphasize the fact that they do know you and write specific things about you, not just that you’re the best student/colleague/junior they’ve seen, making you stand out from the thousand or so other applicants is the best gift they can give you;
      (3.) Titles do matter, so you should have recommendation writers with credentials and these should be visible on their letters;
      (4.) It would be ideal if one of them has some connection with the EMTM program or the connected universities so they could weigh in on how suitable you are for the program/university;
      (5.) Keep them one page long and if your writer is willing, note at the end that they may be contacted for any further queries;
      (6.) The more the merrier! For the EMJD application we were told that we needed to submit three recommendation letters, but that more would be welcome. I ended up sending in four.

      For your program I think it specifies academic letters of recommendation (do you work in a university?), but let me check and I’ll get back to you!

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