The ERASMUS Programme

ERASMUS is a part of the Permanent Learning Program (PLP). By this program, students, Teachers and no teaching Staff may take part in exchanges and mobilities between other European Educational Institutions.

Erasmus is the EU’s flagship education and training programme, enabling more than 180,000 students to study and work abroad each year, as well as supporting co-operation actions between higher education institutions across Europe. It caters not only for students, but also for professors and business staff who want to teach abroad and for university staff who want to be trained abroad.

The Programme is named after the humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1465-1536) whose travels for work and study took in the era’s great centres of learning, including Paris, Leuven and Cambridge. Like the man, the Erasmus programme places great importance on mobility and furthering career prospects through learning. By leaving his fortune to the University of Basel, he became a pioneer of the mobility grants which now bear his name.

Studies show that a period spent abroad not only enriches students’ lives in the academic field but also in the acquisition of intercultural skills and self-reliance. Staff exchanges have similar beneficial effects, both for the people participating and for the home and host institutions.

In addition to mobility actions, the Programme supports higher education institutions to work together through intensive programmes, networks and multilateral projects.

Few, if any, programmes launched by the European Union have had a similar Europe-wide reach. Around 90% of European universities take part in Erasmus and 2 million students have participated since it started in 1987. The annual budget is in excess of €440million, more than 4,000 higher education institutions in 31 countries participate, and even more are waiting to join.

Objectives and actions

Erasmus has become a driver in the modernisation of higher education in Europe and inspired the establishment of the Bologna Process. The general aim of the Programme is to create a European Higher Education Area and foster innovation throughout Europe.

Erasmus became part of the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme in 2007 and expanded to cover new areas such as student placements in enterprises (transferred from the Leonardo da Vinci programme), university staff training and teaching for enterprise staff. The Programme seeks to expand its mobility actions even further in coming years, with the target of 3 million Erasmus students by 2012.

Actions include support for:

For students:

  • studying abroad
  • doing a traineeship abroad
  • linguistic preparation

For universities/higher education institution staff:

  • teaching abroad
  • receiving training abroad
For universities/higher education institutions:

  • intensive programmes
  • academic and structural networks
  • multilateral projects
For enterprises:

  • hosting students placements
  • teaching abroad
  • participating in university cooperation project

Higher education institutions which want to participate in Erasmus actions must have an Erasmus University Charter. The Charter aims to guarantee a high level of quality in mobility and cooperation by setting out fundamental principles for all Erasmus actions that participating institutions must follow.

The European Commission is responsible for the Erasmus programme’s overall implementation and its Directorate-General for Education and Culture coordinates its different actions. So called “decentralised actions” regarding individual mobility are run by national agencies in the 31 participating countries. Centralised actions such as networks, multilateral projects and the award of the “Erasmus University Charter” are managed by the Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Culture based in Brussels.

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