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Erasmus: 25 successful years of student exchanges
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Published on 31-01-12

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.

    Erasmus: 25 successful years of student exchanges

    Kate Samways, the two millionth Erasmus student and Julia Kennedy, Erasmus institutional co-ordinator from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, joined the 25th anniversary celebrations hosted by Commissioner Vassiliou in Brussels this week.

    Commissioner Vassiliou said: "Erasmus is one of the great success stories of the European Union.  Exchanges enable students to improve their knowledge of foreign languages and to develop skills such as adaptability which improve their prospects. It also provides opportunities for teachers and other staff to see how higher education works in other countries and to bring the best ideas home".

    Kate recently graduated from journalism at Cardiff University and will work for France 2 in Paris.

    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.

    During 2009/10 academic year, more than 213,000 students received 'Erasmus' grants, but only 11,723 of them were UK students.  This compares with Spain who sent the largest number of students abroad (31,158), followed by France (30,213) and Germany (28,854). However, the UK was the third most popular destination for students (22,650), after Spain (35,389), France (26,141).


    The Erasmus programme was launched in 1987 with 3 244 young, adventurous students who took part in learning experiences in one of the 11 countries which initially participated in the programme. Now, 33 countries take part in the scheme - the 27 EU member states, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

    In the past 25 years, the programme has seen a constant rise in both the number of students and in the quality and diversity of the proposed activities. Teachers and other staff, such as university international relations officers who are often the first point of contact for potential Erasmus students, can also benefit from EU support to teach or train abroad – nearly 40,000 did so in 2010/2011.

    Work placements in companies abroad have been supported through Erasmus since 2007 and are increasingly popular. Up to now, grants have already been awarded to nearly 150,000 students for this purpose. In 2009/10, 35,000 students (one in six of the total) chose a work placement, which was a 17% increase on the previous year.

    Events in the UK include:

    May: Erasmus Alumni Event (London) and UK Erasmus Student Network Celebration activities sponsored by the British Council.

    Also, in November an award event by the British Council marking the competition of former Erasmus students and staff and their contribution with essays, photos or films on the topic of the impact of the Erasmus Programme over the last 25 years.

    UK agencies
    British Council - Comenius, Erasmus
    Tel: (44) 207 389 4277

    UK National Agency - Leonardo, Grundtvig & Transversal Programmes - Ecorys
    Tel: (44) 845 199 2929

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    Last update: 31/01/2012  |Top