The new academic year is fast approaching and this year too – thanks to the Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes – thousands of young people are getting ready to study or work as a trainee in another EU country.
Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci are two flagship initiatives of the Commission's education and lifelong learning programmes.
Erasmus: a hit with students
Since the Erasmus programme was launched in 1987, it has enabled 2.5 million young people from across Europe to spend 3‑12 months studying or working as a trainee outside their home country. The 2009‑2010 academic year set a new record, with 213,000 students taking part.
Much more than just a study visit, Erasmus marks for many students the first time they felt "European". They learn to function in a foreign language and gain valuable skills for the job market, such as adaptability and a greater intercultural awareness.
4,000 universities in 33 European countries take part in the programme. Students don't have to pay tuition fees to the foreign university, and on average they receive a monthly grant of €254. Back at home, they receive full academic credit for courses taken during the programme.
A traineeship in a foreign company is also possible with Erasmus. 35,500 of the 213,000 Erasmus students chose this option in 2009. There were also 38,000 exchanges of university staff and teachers. And since 2004, the Erasmus Mundus programme has enabled 23,000 students from other countries to come and study in Europe.
Leonardo da Vinci: the professional training programme
From trainees and apprentices to graduates and teachers, the Leonardo programme is aimed at people looking to get professional training abroad. Since it started 15 years ago, the programme has given out 710,000 grants.
It has given researchers, engineers, social workers, mechanics, and even bakers the chance to go to another European country to learn new things and share their knowledge.
People benefit both professionally and personally from Leonardo, which gives them a competitive edge in the European job market. In 2010, 92,000 people took the plunge and tried it out.