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IP/01/1588

Brussels, 15 November 2001

30 countries, 1,800 universities, 120,000 students to take part in the Erasmus programme this year

At the beginning of a new academic year, the European Commission announced the figures of the activities that will take place around Europe in 2001/02 under the Erasmus programme. Thus, it is foreseen that around 120,000 university students will carry out a recognised period of study in another European country and that more than 10,000 university professors will spend a short teaching period in another university. Erasmus is the "Higher Education" chapter of SOCRATES, the European programme in the field of education, which since 1997 is also open to the associated countries.

" I am very proud of the great success of Erasmus. The "Erasmus experience" not only improves the academic and cultural skills of Europeans, but also their transnational employability. Many former ERASMUS students tend to succeed in finding jobs linked to the use of skills acquired or reinforced during the study period abroad such as language skills, professional knowledge of the host country, first hand knowledge of the host culture and society. Indeed about a third of Erasmus students were offered employment abroad and about one fifth were employed abroad" Education Commissioner Viviane Reding said.

The financial package for the Erasmus activities 2001/02 will be of about 150 million Euro, 80% of which will be reserved to mobility grants. The total budget for the second phase of the Socrates programme amounts to 1,850 million Euro for the period 2000-2006, 51 % of which will be absorbed by the Erasmus action. Launched in 1987 with a few universities, Erasmus has enabled to date approximately 850,000 students to spend a study period abroad, contributing thereby to the building of a genuine European citizenship. Next year the one millionth Erasmus student will be celebrated.

120 000 participating students

1,826 universities or higher education institutions will take part in the programme in 2001/2002. Approximately 120,000 students will spend between 6 and 12 months abroad, with a grant covering part of their "mobility costs" such as travel, different living costs, etc. The most active countries in absolute terms will be France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy (see table 1), but in relative terms (i. e. the percentage of Erasmus students as compared with the national student population) some of the "smaller" countries Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Portugal - have shown a remarkable dynamism.

The fields of study in which most student exchanges occur are Business (18 %), Languages and Philology (14 %), Engineering and Technology Sciences (12 %) and Social Sciences (10 %)

To guarantee the recognition of Erasmus studies abroad, over 1,000 Higher Education institutions have adopted the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) This consists of a common "scale" quantifying workload for students (hours of lectures, personal studying, laboratories, etc, for a total of 60 credits per year). Conceived and launched for the purpose of Erasmus, the system of academic credits is now being adopted -or it is under adoption- in several European Countries (recently, Italy and Germany) as a national system for organising study cycles.

As far as professors are concerned, it is foreseen that 10,000 will benefit from short-term assignments (generally, one week) to give lectures which are fully integrated in the study programme of the host institution. The most active "sending" countries are Germany, Spain and France and the most represented fields of studies are Engineering/Technology (14%), Languages (13%), Social Sciences (10%) and Business (10%) .

332 European innovative projects

However, Erasmus is not only an "exchange" programme: every year, European Universities (as well as Arts Academies, Fachhochschulen, etc) may join their efforts and design together study programmes, e.g. European modules, curricula, Masters, Intensive programmes, in every field of study. In 2001/2002 there will be 120 new study programmes and 220 intensive programmes. The 332 new European projects, have been selected on the basis of their innovative approach, on the use of new technologies and on the link with the socio-economic world. Among them, a "Master in Cultural Policies and Management" coordinated by the LUISS University (Rome) with 4 partners; a summer University on "management of e-commerce", organised by the Polytechnics of Pirkanmaan (Finland); a "European Doctorate in Peace Studies" coordinated by the University of Bilbao, with 7 other universities.

In addition, Erasmus will support the activities of 26 "Thematic networks" between faculties and university departments, professional associations, research centres, which constitute large "fora of reflexion" on a specific subject area or on specific themes. Together with 18 existing networks that have been renewed, 8 new Thematic networks are launched this year in different fields of study (from History to Architecture to Computer Sciences).

Towards a European higher education area

Encouraging statistics exist for the participation of the associated countries, which are taking part in the programme in the context of their pre-accession strategies : 313 establishments will benefit from Socrates/Erasmus in 2001/02. Their activities will include the exchanges of some 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers; the organisation of 25 intensive programmes; the participation in 135 joint study programmes as well as the adoption of ECTS by 177 Higher Education institutions.

Erasmus students seem to reflect the population of University students in general and do not seem to belong to upper socio-economic classes (53% of interviewed Erasmus students qualified their parents' income as average or below average). Moreover, the choice of studying abroad in many cases does not depend on economic considerations but more on factors such as motivation, access to information and the recognition and encouragement of such an experience within the family of the student.

The Erasmus action is contributing to the development of the "European Higher Education Area", the big initiative launched in 1999 with the "Bologna declaration" of 31 Ministers for Education and re-enforced this year in Prague. Its objective is the establishment, by 2010, of a pan-European area based on a common architecture for academic degrees studies (two-cycles study programmes and credit systems in all Countries); on common frameworks for transparency and comparability of titles; on quality and european dimension in higher education; on mobility of students and teachers. For more information:

On Erasmus : http://ec.europa.eu/education/erasmus.html

On Higher Education in Europe and on the "European Higher Education Area": http://ec.europa.eu/education/higher.html

ANNEX

TABLE ON STUDENT MOBILITY 2001/02 : students by home and host country

Host

HomeBEDKDEGRESFRIEITLUNLATPTFISEUKISLINOBGCZEECYLVLTHUMTPLROSISKTotalHome
BE21176016514371391212734181019129539926279425121198314141630100291438724208387BE
DK181585724644828423102859950124113649301113635162734387753011363860DK
DE91977769546586474106531421317266607241437175149256426059851082311201225465199624612612332688DE
GR3201268185108125563012051671962611654421262728197611769211910911235371GR
ES1708694457945564325265369113786221730741846388145274231772126164316519351239385130450ES
FR130070062516876365146835002214256869579311322750443403952923722246136027628625538035868FR
IE1584369128346966208013810440125941876303154137842510513250IE
IT113046335235905673415026638217289295306142285432234291532914164728697328310546923416IT
LU1711884250LU
NL60925010681399659391853943205171540565150416620317971861714136121577324178350NL
AT18110352311661369614460742771032482715511721175791268128510512647174931AT
PT42211470217917631042608282275142175144461102781813018617427821628829187007PT
FI3171211152185575613204340155325111219211502267121131691359101231141552825376812FI
SE278102131698601992139346056029190166111836265359334519481161533717126760SE
UK6005434103372306954281711716012294123499819043732894020817919281252328482314521117UK
IS1146323191831901271141420219IS
LI01201302032102421LI
NO12714351648356390532090272945886853942831NO
BG7041648727149548020192414369703BG
CZ11776856912213753117021871941531611033053042CZ
EE21331299255683302518192365423689EE
CY7293710080252821075CY
LV532023951823723025426887219622LV
LT5412630824628213640333059159172281214LT
HU183678047116041513323019616467326791873055HU
MT307384202874902064171428272MT
PL35322520191714359426250413951182352842834016428PL
RO3028466621031013132349301476613645801274002RO
SI341817612477347503510431243029692SI
SK6716308417810411067365723581045957SK
Total95525115323544561288253441648092017161110905454658981788246271404062026614402034479230374652230831336271990495549223139Total

NB: The number of students that every year benefit from the programme does not corresponds with the "available places". (Generally it corresponds to +-55% of them).

This mainly happens because many universities prefer to send a smaller number of students with a higher grant


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