The EU’s Erasmus Exchange Programme – A Real Success Story
There is hardly any other scheme run by the European Union that can boast a more positive response than the Erasmus programme. Since it was first launched in 1987 more than 2.2 million students and 250,000 university lecturers have participated in exchanges. Its annual budget amounts to over 450 million euros, more than 4,000 higher education institutions take part – from all 27 EU member countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Liechtenstein. In the year 2009 Croatia and the Former People’s Republic of Macedonia were accepted for the programme, increasing the number of countries participating to 33.
According to the latest figures that were published in 2010 almost 200,000 students received funding from the Erasmus programme to finance a period of study or to do a work placement in another country. That is more than there has ever been before in one academic year. According to statistics from the EU Commission in 2008/2009 the average amount of money awarded to Erasmus students rose from 255 euros to 272 euros per month. The amount is the same wherever you study, i.e. those students studying in Sofia get exactly the same amount as those at the University of Stockholm. Erasmus students do not have to pay tuition fees, they can avail themselves of both academic and linguistic help in the run-up to their stay abroad, the host university offers help to find accommodation, it also provides a whole range of cultural activities for them and generally helps them to accustom themselves to their new, “alien” environment.
Great demand for placements
The most striking growth rates recently have been registered in the numbers of students doing a work placement in a company abroad. At the beginning of 2009 a pilot scheme was introduced called “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs”, an exchange programme that supports young entrepreneurs in gaining experience and knowledge from experienced business people, with the aim of starting up and running their own small or medium-sized business.
Most Erasmus students came from France (28,300), Germany (27,900) and Spain (27,400). The most popular countries to go to were Spain (33,200), France (24,600) and Germany (22,000). The EU Commission estimates that at present about four per cent of all European students make use of Erasmus funding in the course of their studies. That is not even one in 20 – still a tiny number in view of all the success stories.
The Erasmus Mundus programme enables students from all over the world to study in the EU. Vice-versa students from the EU can obtain a grant to study at one of over 60 partner universities located in 28 countries outside the EU. The aim of Erasmus Mundus is to promote cooperation between EU member states themselves as well as with third countries. The programme provides not only financial support for institutions of higher education, but also grants for individual students. Between 2004 and 2008 more than 6,000 junior researchers benefited from the programme. In the same period of time more than 1,000 teachers from third countries actively contributed to newly introduced Master’s programmes or research projects with the help of an Erasmus Mundus grant.
Study in Europe
One of the characteristic features of the programme is the fact that the grant-holders complete their course of study at not less than two European universities. This gives them the opportunity to get to know different European cultures. The second phase of the programme started in 2009 and will continue until 2013. A total of more than 950 million euros in funding is available. The most important innovations are the introduction of joint doctoral programmes, more grants for European students and more intensive cooperation with the universities in the third countries.
is a free-lance journalist in Berlin and head of an agency for copy and design. (www.thomas-ppr.de)
Translation: Paul McCarthy
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
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