ERASMUS is the EU’s flagship education and training programme enabling 200 000 students to study and work abroad each year. In addition, it funds co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe. The programme not only supports students, but also professors and business staff who want to teach abroad, as well as helping university staff to receive training.
Many studies show that a period spent abroad not only enriches students’ lives in the academic and professional fields, but can also improve language learning, intercultural skills, self-reliance and self-awareness. Their experiences give students a better sense of what it means to be a European citizen. In addition, many employers highly value such a period abroad, which increases the students’ employability and job prospects.
Staff exchanges have similar beneficial effects, both for the people participating and for the home and host institutions.
Few, if any, programmes launched by the European Union have had a similar Europe-wide reach as the ERASMUS Programme. The vast majority of European universities take part in ERASMUS. More than 2.2 million students have participated since it started in 1987, as well as 250 000 higher education teachers and other staff since 1997 (this type of exchange was also expanded further in 2007.
The annual budget is in excess of 450 million euro; more than 4 000 higher education institutions in 33 countries participate, and more are waiting to join.
By mid-2010, 2.2 million students will have experienced what it means to do an ERASMUS term in one of more than 4 000 higher education institutions in 33 participating countries. These include all the EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Periods abroad – both for studies and for placements – can last from three to 12 months each, for a combined total of 24 months.
ERASMUS student mobility is open to all students studying in a participating country and enrolled in at least the second year in their home institution. Meanwhile, you can take a placement from your first year onwards.
To participate in ERASMUS student mobility, you should first contact the international office of the institution where you study at home. The office will be able to tell you about possible host institutions and host enterprises, the selection procedure and financial support.
Students taking part in the programme may be eligible for grants to cover part of the additional costs for living abroad and travelling. In all circumstances, tuition fees at the host university are waived.
In addition, students with special needs, such as physical disabilities, may get extra funds to help them cover additional expenses related to their stay abroad.
Find out more about ERASMUS activities for students and details of how to apply:
Student ‘mobility’ for studies
Student mobility for placements (traineeships)
There are two other types of activities funded through ERASMUS that students can take part in:
Intensive Programmes: there are more than 250 short study programmes organised throughout Europe each year. These courses last between two and six weeks and are organised by at least three higher education institutions in different countries.
Students taking part in ERASMUS exchanges can also benefit from Erasmus Intensive Language Courses in less widely used and taught languages in the host country before the start of their studies or traineeship
Since 2007, the scope of ERASMUS staff ‘mobility’ initiatives has expanded to non-teaching staff and visiting lecturers from the business sector in order to bring a wider range of experience to campuses.
In the academic year 2007/2008, some 27 200 lecturers from institutions and enterprises taught abroad and 5 000 staff received training abroad in one of the 31 participating countries.
Higher education staff can find information on how to get involved from the international office in their home institution.
Find out more about ERASMUS mobility activities for staff and details of how to apply at the links below:
For teachers of higher education institutions: having teaching staff coming from abroad enables students to benefit from new lectures, different teaching methods and perhaps to experience learning in a foreign language (this is called “internationalisation at home”). Teachers can gain different perspectives, establish new contacts and build their academic network. Periods are quite short, averaging about one week.
For business staff: visiting lecturers from the business sector provide fresh insights for students. During their stay, they may set up exchanges with the partner institution for student placements and staff training, as well as take part in co-operation projects and networks.
Staff training: teaching and other staff from higher education institutions, such as librarians, can go abroad to receive training in a business or at another institution. The stay is an opportunity to stimulate further exchanges and co-operation.
Intensive programmes: teachers can gain experience in teaching abroad in one of more than 250 intensive programmes that take place yearly throughout Europe. These short study programmes, between two and six weeks, are organised by at least three higher institutions from three different countries.
Co-operation: staff members can represent their institution in ‘multilateral’ co-operation activities, particularly in the development of curricula, and in academic and structural networks.
ERASMUS ‘mobility’ actions for staff and students have greatly helped in internationalising and modernising Europe’s higher education institutions. The programme also supports a number of different types of co-operation activities between higher education institutions and businesses from different countries, to further drive innovation in the sector:
Intensive programmes: short study programmes on a specific topic involving institutions from at least three countries. Grants are provided for course organisation and to students and staff;
Multilateral projects: there are four different types of co-operation projects, which run for up to three years with at least three countries: curriculum development, co-operation between higher education institutions and enterprises, higher education modernisation and virtual campuses;
Networks: forums for the exchange of best practice, focused on specific academic disciplines or organisational aspects; there must be at least five partners;
Accompanying measures: promote the objectives and results of ERASMUS projects, in areas such as information and communication activities, thematic monitoring and dissemination and exploitation;
Preparatory visits: enable institutions to plan mobility actions, agreements for ERASMUS student and staff exchanges, and co-operation programmes.
The ERASMUS programme is open to all types of higher education institutions, all academic disciplines and all levels of higher education study, up to and including doctorates. Post-secondary level vocational education institutions can also take part.
However, higher education institutions must hold the ERASMUS University Charter to participate in the various ERASMUS activities. They can apply for this each year – more than 4 000 institutions currently hold the charter in 33 participating countries.
Institutions can find information on how to get involved in individual mobility actions by contacting the national agency for ERASMUS in their country. For information on participation in larger-scale co-operation activities, institutions should contact the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels.