The Erasmus student and staff exchange programme celebrates its "silver" anniversary this year. The celebrations will be launched Monday 30th January.
Erasmus is at the heart of the European Commission's education policy and its strategy to combat the crisis and youth unemployment. Since its launch in 1987, nearly 3 million students and staff have received grants to study or teach abroad or undertake work placements. Studies show that this experience is invaluable for boosting skills in areas such as language learning and adaptability, which can increase an individual's employability. The scheme also helps to promote teaching quality and institutional cooperation. 33 European countries participate in the Erasmus scheme (27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). Demand for Erasmus places strongly exceeds the availability of grants in most countries. The Commission has called for a significant increase in EU support for higher education mobility under its proposed new programme for education, training and youth ('Erasmus for All'), which is due to start in 2014.
The 25th anniversary celebrations will be launched at a press conference by the Commissioner responsible for education, Androulla Vassiliou. She will be joined by "Erasmus ambassadors" from the 33 countries participating in the scheme. One student and one staff member have been chosen to represent each country, based on the impact that Erasmus has had on their professional and private lives; their role is to encourage other students and staff to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.