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Erasmus: record numbers of EU students receive funding to study or train abroad
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21/06/2010 00:00:00

According to new figures released today, more EU students than ever travelled abroad for studies and company placements in the 2008/9 academic year under the EU's flagship education and training programme, ERASMUS.

Almost 200,000 higher education students received grants to study or train abroad. This represents an overall increase of 8.7 per cent on the previous academic year and means that more than two million young Europeans have benefited from Erasmus funding since the programme's launch in 1987.

The biggest increase was in the number of students (30,400) going on company placements abroad – an increase of more than 50 per cent on the previous year. Some 3,400 students were from the United Kingdom.  Whilst Spain was the most popular destination for placements (5,000), the UK was the second most popular with 4,800 placements.

Last year more than 36,000 staff from higher education institutions went abroad to teach or receive training in one of the 31 participating European countries  - EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey - representing an annual increase of 13.6 per cent.

The UK was the most popular destination with some 900 staff exchanges for higher education staff undertaking training in a company or at a higher education institution of between one and six weeks. In total there were 7,800 training periods, 59 per cent more than in the previous year.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "More and more young Europeans are benefitting from a learning experience abroad during their studies. Ask those who have joined the 'Erasmus generation' and they will tell you how it has helped them in their academic and personal development, as well as in finding a job after their studies.

She added: "With the upcoming 'Youth on the Move' initiative we want to expand this European success story and make it an opportunity for all young people."

The record numbers of students benefiting from the Erasmus scheme reflects a 12 per cent increase in the budget available in 2008/09 for Erasmus studies, placements and other mobility actions. This also led to an increase in the average monthly grant, up from 255 euro to 272 euro.

Lower budget increases in the next few years mean that it will be difficult for the programme to expand at similar rates in the near future without additional resources.

    Erasmus studies

    168,200 students received Erasmus support to go abroad for studies and spent an average of six months in the host country, an increase of 3.4 per cent compared to the previous year. For two countries (Germany and Poland), the number of students choosing this option did not increase and eight countries recorded a decrease (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom). Factors behind this decrease are believed to include a shift to placements, competition from non-European destination countries, the start of the economic crisis and low grants.

    Erasmus company placements

    Since 2007, Erasmus offered students the opportunity to go abroad for placements in businesses or other organisations. In 2008/9 an increase of more than 50 per cent was recorded on the previous year with some 30,400 students getting placements.

    A desire by students to increase their job prospects through practical work - as shown by a Eurobarometer survey in 2009 - is seen as the main reason behind the increasing popularity.

    Highest number of Erasmus students

    The countries sending the highest numbers of Erasmus students were France (28,300 students), Germany (27,900) and Spain (27,400). As a share of their student population the top performers were Luxembourg (15.5 per cent), Liechtenstein (3 per cent), Austria (1.9 per cent) and the Czech Republic (1.7 per cent).

    The most popular destinations for Erasmus students were Spain (33,200 students), followed by France (24,600) and Germany (22,000).

    Staff mobility

    During the academic year 2008/2009, Erasmus supported more than 36,000 exchanges of staff from higher education institutions (up 13.6 per cent). In 28,600 cases teachers received grants to teach abroad and in 7,700 cases staff spent time in another country for training in businesses or partner institutions.


    ERASMUS is the EU's flagship education and training programme enabling students to study and work abroad. The programme also supports professors and business staff who want to teach abroad, as well as helping university staff to receive training.  It also funds co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe.

    Erasmus not only caters for students and university staff, but also supports higher education institutions in working together through networks, multilateral projects and other measures. There is also an increased focus on reaching out to the world of business and society.

    Currently, an estimated 4 per cent of European students receive an Erasmus grant at some stage during their studies.

    With the addition of Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Erasmus programme in 2009, the number of participating countries has risen to 33.

    According to independent studies, the Erasmus programme has had a substantial impact on many levels.  Participants acquire skills that increase their future employability and, in the case of staff, their career prospects are improved. In addition, higher education institutions internationalise their campuses, introduce new teaching methods and services, build up management capacity, strengthen research activities and create links to business.

    The Commission believes the Erasmus programme can contribute to the Union's 'Europe 2020' strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by equipping young people with the adaptable skills needed for a competitive, knowledge-based society.

    More information

    Detailed statistical information including breakdowns of the latest figures by country see: MEMO/10/267.

    More statistics:

    Background on the Erasmus programme

    Erasmus publications


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.

    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

    Last update: 30/10/2010  |Top