Erasmus, the world's most successful student exchange programme, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Nearly three million students have benefited from a study period or work placement abroad since the creation of the Erasmus programme in 1987.
Under the slogan, 'Erasmus: changing lives, opening minds for 25 years', the silver anniversary celebrations will be launched today by Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Erasmus mobility is at the heart of the Commission's strategy to combat youth unemployment by focusing more on skills development – an issue which will be discussed by heads of state and government at today's Informal European Council.
In the 2011/2012 academic year, more than 250 000 students will benefit from the Erasmus programme. The most popular destinations for students are expected to be Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, while the countries sending the most students abroad are expected to be Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland. The EU has allocated around € 3 billion for Erasmus for the period 2007-13.
Erasmus for All would bring together all the current EU and international schemes for education, training, youth and sport, replacing seven existing programmes with one. This will increase efficiency, make it easier to apply for grants, as well as reducing duplication and fragmentation. Under the new programme, the aim is for up to 5 million people, almost twice as many as now, to get the chance to study, train or teach abroad. The Commission's proposal is currently being discussed by the Member States and the European Parliament, which decide the future budget.