Newest statistics launched by the EU show that the number of students who have spent parts of their studies abroad with an Erasmus grant has now passed 3 million. Erasmus mobility programme was introduced in 1987 and is considered one of the definite success stories of European initiatives in the area of education. The programme includes at this point 33 countries (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).
26 years ago when the programme was introduced it attracted 3,244 students Europe wise. The numbers for the 2011/2012 academic year indicate a new record – over 250 000 students spent either part of their studies abroad or had a job placement with a foreign company. Furthermore, well over 45 000 staff members, both academic and administrative received support to teach or train abroad. Over 33 ooo of these were teaching assignments, marking a 5.4% increase compared to the previous year.
The highest growth amongst outbounding students was in Croatia with 61,8%, potentially explained with their recent joining with the programme. However, high growth rates were also shown in Denmark, Slovenia and Turkey. The country sending out most students was Spain, followed by Germany and France – all three being among the larger countries in Europe. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Spain was also the most popular destination country with a clear margin, followed by France and Germany.
The Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou commented on the recent numbers: “Erasmus is more important than ever in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment: the skills and international experience gained by Erasmus students make them more employable and more likely to be mobile on the labour market. Erasmus has also played a tremendous role in improving the quality of higher education in Europe by opening up our universities and colleges to international cooperation. Looking to the future, I’m delighted that our new Erasmus+ programme will enable 4 million young people to study, train, teach or volunteer abroad in the next seven years.”
Have you had experience with an Erasmus programme? How did the experience contribute to your studies?