More than 46,500 academic and administrative staff also received support from Erasmus to teach or train abroad, an experience designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the 33 countries, which participate in the scheme (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).
Among the countries participating in Erasmus, the three most popular destinations for students in 2011-2012 were Spain, France and Germany. Spain also sent the largest number of students abroad, followed by Germany and France.
Nearly 205,000 students, around 80% of the total supported by Erasmus in 2011-12 opted to spend an average of six months abroad at a university or other higher education institution, as part of their degree programme. The number choosing the study option increased by 7.5% compared with the previous year. With a growth rate of 18% on the previous year, job placements in companies continue to be increasingly popular. In 2011-12, one in five Erasmus students, almost 50 000 in total, chose this option.
Demand continued to exceed the availability of Erasmus grants in most countries. The average monthly Erasmus grant, designed to cover part of the additional costs of living abroad and travel, was €252. The grant, which has remained stable for the past three years, is topped up in some countries by national, regional or institutional funds.
Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, due for launch in January 2014, will build on the legacy of Erasmus by offering opportunities for 4 million people to study, train, teach or volunteer abroad by 2020. The programme is expected to have a budget of around €14.5 billion for 2014-2020 - 40% more than funding for the current education and training mobility programmes. Erasmus+ replaces the current Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), as well as Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the bilateral cooperation programme with industrialised countries.
Maltese students get some of the highest grants for Erasmus. Roderick Muscat, 26, from Malta did his Erasmus at the University of Warsaw, Poland, where he spent 4 months following a European studies course. He shared his experience together with students from other countries:
“Erasmus offered me a great opportunity to experience life in Central and Eastern Europe. It was also a chance for me to live the great experiences that I had heard about from other students who had gone on an Erasmus.
“Erasmus exceeded my expectations. Meeting students from all over the world is a great way to break down barriers between different languages and cultures. Staying for a long time in a new country gave me the chance to learn about the culture of the host country, their food, their way of living, their nightlife, etc. I have to say that I was really impressed by the beautiful library that I found in Warsaw. Academically, I had the chance to learn about topics which were not available at my home university
“I had the chance to give a presentation about my home country to Polish students and, at Christmas, I visited children in an orphanage. I can say that Erasmus as a whole has certainly helped my personal development. Living in a new country, where you do not understand a word is not easy; doing so for four months is a great achievement.”
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