1. What is an Erasmus 'study period' and who determines what its content will be?
An Erasmus study period lasts 3-12 months and is an integral part of the student's course of study at their home university or other higher education institution. Full academic recognition of the satisfactorily completed study period abroad must be given, as stipulated in the “learning agreement”, which is signed by the student, the home institution and the host institution. The learning agreement is a sort of contract to be completed before the study period begins. It states precisely what modules the student will be studying. At the end of the study period abroad, the host institution provides the Erasmus student, as well as their home institution, with a report recording the results obtained in the agreed programme of study abroad.
Universities and other higher education institutions which participate in the Erasmus programme must have an Erasmus University Charter and be recognised by the national authorities of the country in which they are located. The Erasmus University Charter aims to guarantee the quality of the programme by setting fundamental principles and commitments to be respected by the institutions concerned.
Students registered at a higher education institution holding an "extended" Erasmus University Charter can also benefit from a work placement (traineeship/internship) period in an enterprise or organisation abroad. Full recognition must be given by the home institution for the period spent abroad, based on a "training agreement" approved by all parties before the mobility period starts.
2. How to apply for an Erasmus student mobility grant?
In order to participate in the Erasmus student exchange scheme, a student must fulfil the following conditions:
be enrolled in a formal programme of study at a participating higher education institution leading to a degree or a diploma (including doctoral level) in one of the 33 participating countries (EU 27 + Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey)
to have successfully completed at least the first year of his/her higher education studies (this condition does not apply to work placements).
The vast majority of the EU’s universities and other higher education institutions participate in the Erasmus programme. The international relations office or the Erasmus office of the home higher education institution is the first point of contact for information on how to obtain an Erasmus grant. They can provide information on all the Erasmus exchanges which the institution is involved in.
3. How many students have benefited from the Erasmus programme?
Student exchanges through the Erasmus programme have grown consistently since its launch in 1987 and it is expected that the total number of beneficiaries will reach 3 million during the 2012/2013 academic year.
Distribution of outgoing students studying or doing company placements abroad in 2009-2010
4. How much do Erasmus students receive as a grant?
The average monthly Erasmus grant in the 2009/10 academic year was €254. Demand strongly exceeds the availability of grants in most countries. More than 213 000 students received Erasmus grants to study or benefit from a work placement abroad in 2009/10 – a 7.4% increase (and new record) compared to the previous year.
Grants are allocated to students after undergoing a selection process at their home higher education institution and their acceptance by the host institution or company (for traineeships). The institution hosting the students must not charge them any tuition fees, which is a fundamental principle for Erasmus.
The amount of the grant varies from one country to another, and is not intended to cover all the expenses of the student. Indeed, it is intended to offset part of the difference in the cost of living in the other country.
The European Commission sets a ceiling for the monthly grant per destination country; it is up to the national agencies implementing Erasmus and the higher education institutions to decide how much to the grant should be. Most aim to maximise the number of beneficiaries (students and staff), though some prefer to pay a higher grant to fewer recipients. The national agencies and home institutions can, for instance, take into account the socio-economic background of the student and the distance between home and host institutions. The Erasmus grant can be combined with additional funds provided by the university, the Member States, regions or by other public or private bodies. An increasing number of private companies propose mobility grants and more and more students have now access to student loans from a bank.
5. Is it true that Erasmus also supports staff mobility and language courses?
Yes. The so-called “decentralised actions” to promote individual mobility, run by national agencies in the 33 participating countries, include Erasmus staff mobility for teaching and training, Erasmus Intensive Programmes, and Erasmus Intensive Language Courses .
Erasmus staff mobility
Teaching assignments enable teaching staff to spend a teaching period abroad. This can last from 1 day (at least 5 teaching hours) to 6 weeks at a higher education institution in another country. The objective is to promote excellence in teaching and international cooperation between higher education institutions. Staff mobility accounts for 8% of the overall Erasmus budget. In the 2009/10 academic year, Erasmus funded 29 031 teaching assignments and 8 745 training sessions. Staff training is also available to non-teaching staff.
Growth in staff mobility numbers from 2007/08 to 2009/10
Erasmus Intensive Programmes and Intensive Language Courses
An intensive programme is a short study programme which brings together students and teaching staff from higher education institutions in at least three participating countries. It can last from 10 continuous full days to 6 weeks of subject-related work. The aim is to encourage the teaching of topics which might not otherwise be taught at the individual higher education institutions, and to enable students and teachers to work together in multinational groups. The main features of Erasmus Intensive Programmes are inter- and multidisciplinary innovative approaches. 12 606 students and 4 378 teachers participated in 384 intensive programmes in 2009/10.
Erasmus Intensive Language Courses The initiative supports specialised courses in the less widely used and less taught languages. They are organised in the countries where these languages are used as teaching languages at higher education institutions. English, German, French and Spanish (Castilian) are not eligible as Erasmus Intensive Language Courses. The objective of the courses is to linguistically and culturally prepare future Erasmus students in the host country for the mobility period. 5 386 students participated in 361 Erasmus intensive language courses in 2009/10.
“Centralised actions" such as networks, multilateral projects and accompanying measures are managed by the EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. They serve to develop specific activities among higher education institutions and other stakeholders (such as businesses) to modernise different aspects of higher education and implement as well as feed policy in this sector.
Focus of funded Erasmus university cooperation projects from 2007 to 2010
Higher education policy priorities addressed by Erasmus cooperation projects from 2007 to 2010
6. What is the role of the Member States in Erasmus?
EU Member States are involved at various levels. First of all, each Member State sends its national Ministerial representatives to the Council of the European Union to adopt laws and coordinate policies including the Lifelong Learning Programme, of which Erasmus is a part. The budget for Erasmus is decided jointly by the Council and the European Parliament for a seven-year period. Current funding for Erasmus is around €450 million a year. Secondly, national authorities co-fund the running costs of their national agency as well as supervising the implementation of Erasmus in their country. The European Commission is assisted in the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Programme by the Lifelong Learning Committee, which is composed of representatives from the Member States. Finally, higher education institutions have to be recognised by national authorities to be able to qualify for the Erasmus University Charter in order to take part in the Erasmus programme.
7. What is Erasmus for All?
Erasmus for All is the new financial support programme proposed by the European Commission for education, training, youth and sport. It would start in 2014 and would significantly increase the funds allocated for the development of knowledge and skills. Erasmus for All is based on the premise that investing in education and training is the key to unlocking people's potential to increase their personal development, gain new skills and boost their job prospects.
Erasmus for All will have a streamlined structure which will improve effectiveness, which means more grants for students, trainees, teachers and others. Opportunities for mobility and cooperation will be significantly strengthened under the new programme: in particular, there will be more funding available for study, training, teaching and volunteering opportunities abroad for higher education and vocational students, trainees, teachers, trainers and youth workers. There will also be more opportunities for education and training institutions or youth organisations to engage in partnerships to exchange good practice and with businesses to promote innovation and employability, as well as greater support for IT platforms, such as e-twinning, to connect schools and other learning providers via the internet.
8. How is Erasmus for All different from the current programmes?
The main aim remains the same – to improve people's development and skills – and ultimately their employability, as well as to support the modernisation of education and training systems. Erasmus for All would replace seven existing programmes with one: it brings together the existing Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig), Youth in Action, and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries).
The main aims of the existing programmes will continue (i.e. learning mobility, cooperation projects and support for policy reform), but actions will be strengthened where the systemic impact is strongest and where there is a clear EU added value. There are also a number of new innovative proposals, such as the Erasmus Master's student loan guarantee scheme, the knowledge alliances and the sector skills alliances. A single programme will result in simpler application rules and procedures, as well as avoiding fragmentation and duplication. (See IP/11/1308).
Since 2007, an average of 400 000 people per year have received EU grants for study, training and volunteering abroad. Under the Commission's proposal, this figure would nearly double.
This Erasmus for All proposal is now under discussion by the Council (27 Member States) and the European Parliament who will take the final decision on the budgetary framework for 2014-2020.
Students acquiring new knowledge and developing core transferable competences through studying or doing traineeships abroad;
Students well prepared for future labour market needs;
Improved language skills and cultural understanding.
213 000 students
(approximately 20% did traineeships abroad)
280 000 students
(30% doing traineeships abroad)
Higher education teaching staff
Improved quality of teaching by exchanging best practices and innovative learning approaches through short visits for teaching or training abroad.
30 500 stays abroad for teachers
40 000 stays abroad for teachers
Higher education non-teaching staff
Promoting international cooperation between higher education institutions through short training visits.
Enhancing their modernisation and attractiveness ;
Promoting international academic mobility and cooperation;
Bringing education and training curricula in line with labour market needs;
Creating opportunities for joint teaching on specific subjects.
Public bodies, associations and other stake holders
Encouraging them to contribute to the modernisation of higher education institutions through cooperation projects and initiatives such as communication, surveys, research.
Increasing the competitiveness of enterprises through exchange of knowledge, including teaching at higher education institutions;
Enhancing the professional skills and employability of trainees;
Involving employers and labour market institutions in the design and delivery of innovative programmes.
27 000 host enterprises / organisations
* Estimated figures
10. Where to find statistics on the Erasmus Programme
Statistics on the Erasmus programme are available on the following website or in the brochure "Erasmus – facts, figures & trends – The European Union support for student and staff exchanges and university cooperation in 2009/2010":
"Erasmus ambassadors" have been selected in the 33 countries participating in the scheme. One student and one staff member have been chosen to represent each country, based on the impact that Erasmus has had on their professional and private lives; their role is to encourage other students and staff to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
Marc GOFFART from University of Ghent
in 1990 (3 months)
to Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)