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What is Erasmus and who is eligible?

23rd August 2017 Posted by: Gray Morfopoulos

WHILE there are countless networks of universities offering international experience opportunities, there is no programme as broad or comprehensive as the European Union’s Erasmus programme. Established in 1987, Erasmus is the EU’s educational mobility programme designed to “support education, training, youth and sport in Europe”. In other words to provide study abroad opportunities for over 4 million Europeans. The programme has a budget of 14.7 billion euros and is managed by the European Commission.

Student World Online | Erasmus

The aim of the Erasmus programme is to foster employment growth, social equity and inclusion in the European Union and is a core component of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth in this decade.

In practice, Erasmus offers students study-abroad programmes ranging in duration from 3 to 12 months and is offered at the bachelor, master, and doctoral level. Each level of education counts as one “cycle” and students may not exceed 12 months abroad for one cycle. Funding is typically provided to students partaking in an Erasmus programme. The level of funding provided is determined by your National Agency and your institution, but is generally several hundred euros per month, adjusted to the living costs of where your study abroad takes place. Furthermore, Erasmus students are exempted from tuition and most fees at the institution you go to.

Aside from study abroad programs, Erasmus also offers opportunities for traineeships and vocational training. These programs vary depending on your field of study, but may last between two weeks and 12 months. The traineeships are funded by the European Commission, but the funding is managed by the organisation or program your are doing a traineeship with. To be eligible for an Erasmus traineeship you must be in a participating study programme, or have graduated within one year.

Student World Online | Studying Abroad

To be eligible for the Erasmus programme you must be in a higher education institution, and be in your second year of study. Students based in EU countries are eligible for all aspects of the programme, and some non-EU European countries are also eligible, such as Norway and Iceland. There are multiple countries in partnership with Erasmus as well, such as the non-EU Balkan Countries and some Middle Eastern countries. Many aspects of the Erasmus programme are also open to students from other non-EU countries around the world in places such as Latin America and Asia.

For students from the United Kingdom, Brexit has thrown the future of the UK’s participation in the Erasmus programme into doubt. There has been no agreement so far on British participation in Erasmus after Brexit, but there has been a large outcry against Britain leaving the Erasmus programme, as 15,000 students from the UK participated in Erasmus this past year according to The Guardian. Additionally, the UK has been the 3rd most popular destination for Erasmus students from Continental Europe as noted by France24. While the fact that several non-EU countries participate in Erasmus offers some hope for the UK’s continued participation in the programme, it should be noted that should Britain end freedom of movement with the EU, it may be suspended from the programme, as was the case with Switzerland (reported by The Telegraph). UK students currently enrolled in an Erasmus programme will not be affected nor should any students until after the Brexit negotiations have concluded, but beyond that there is no guarantee the UK will still participate in Erasmus Given the popularity of the Erasmus programme, there is hope that the UK will continue to participate in the program regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, but only time will tell.

Student World Online | Studying Abroad

The Erasmus program has been a great achievement of the European Union and has provided international opportunities to millions of Europeans who might not have otherwise had the chance to study outside their home countries. There are countless programmes and institutions that offer Erasmus opportunities both within and beyond the European Union, if you are a student from a participating country, it is well worth looking into as there are few other international experience programmes that are as well established and as well funded as the Erasmus programme. Check with your university/institution to see what Erasmus opportunities are available for you!

For other sources, and for more information, see the European Commission website. 








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