Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Erasmus program in facts and figures

Part I - the data


First of all I have to apologize for this rather short and dry post. My computer just decided to delete ALL MY DATA (so if there is any computer specialist around who can help - please write me!!). This is why I will concentrate on some major data right now, which will be the first part about the Erasmus program in facts and figures. Whereas my former posts were informal and characterized by their subjective approach, I tried to find some more valid data this time. Relying on statistics seems fair enough here, although there is a saying that you shouldn't trust any statistics you haven't faked yourself.



The history of Erasmus

 

The Erasmus program was founded in 1987 after some pilot exchanges with the aim to improve the cooperation between European universities and the mobility of students and teachers. All 28 member states of the EU and Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Turkey are participating. 

The "umbrella programs" for Erasmus changed over the years from the Socrates program to "The Lifelong Learning Programme" (LLP, 2007-2013) to the newly introduced Erasmus Plus (Erasmus+). This new framework combines all current EU schemes for education, training, youth and sport, Youth in Action and other cooperations. It will run from 2014 until 2020 with a budget of 14,7 billion euro.

For the sake of the Erasmus programme, the first officially registrated European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) came to live, called "Fraternité 2020". The goal was to collect 1 million signatures by November 1, 2013 and support the increase in budget from 1,2 to 3% of the EU budget. Luckily for me and my fellow Erasmus students, the program was extended despite the flop of this ECI (only around 70.000 signatures were collected; source: https://www.facebook.com/Fraternite2020).

In the first year, 3,244 students participated. Wikipedia says that currently there are more than "4,000 higher institutions participating in Erasmus [...] and by 2007 over 5 million students had taken part" (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Programme). Recent statistics can be found on the official website: EU - Statistics

The name and aim


The name is 1. an abbreviation for: European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, and 2. a reference to the humanist, teacher, philologist, priest and man-of-the-world Erasmus of Rotterdam.
In this official leaflet ("Changing lives, opening minds"), the aims are formulated as to "help ensure that young people and adults get the skills they need to succeed in today's world". And it is said that "Europe must equip its citizens with the education, skills and creativity that they need in a knowledge society". Another official websites says that "higher education and its links with research and innovation plays a crucial role in individual and societal development and in providing the highly skilled human capital and the articulate citizens that Europe needs to create jobs, economic growth, and prosperity" (source: http://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/higher-education/index_en.htm).

How is it organized

 

There are certain requirements for participating in the Erasmus Programme as a student: You have to be enroled for the studies of a degree or diploma at a tertiary-level institution and be finished with the first year. The framework for the actual stay is a prior "inter-institutional agreement" between the sending and receiving institutions (home and guest university). By working with the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education, it basicly grants that the students don't have to pay any fees at the hosting university. Mostly students will get a grant above that helps to cover some of the living costs (for example, I receive 160 Euro per month). Applications for the program forego at the universities' International offices - which is also where you want to go if you are new to Erasmus and want to find out about your possibilities!
Another regulation concerns the courses a student takes. Before the stay a "Learning Agreement" will be signed by all parties, which sets the program for the student's semester(s) abroad. After the semester(s), the student receives a transcript of records. Based on the credit point (ECTS) system, the sending institution must acknowledge these achievements. If you want to read more, there is a whole student charter about the rights and obligations as an Erasmus student: Student Charter - Erasmus

I hope this has given you a first impression about the framework of the "Erasmus-myth". In my next post, I will comment on these data and provide you with some further information. For now, please visit these links if you are still curious:

http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/
http://ec.europa.eu/education/opportunities/index_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/education/opportunities/higher-education/study-mobility_en.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Programme

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