Erasmus: university exchanges expand rapidly among the new Member States
European Commission - IP/06/319 16/03/2006
Brussels, 16 March 2006
The European Commission’s flagship action in the field of education, the university exchange programme Erasmus, continued to expand in the academic year 2004/05. The overall number of students taking part on Erasmus exchanges rose by over 6% on the previous year, while the number of university teachers exchanged under the scheme grew by almost 13%. The biggest impact of the scheme has been felt in the Central and Eastern European countries. Student exchanges rose on average by an impressive 36% in the new Member States, while growth in teacher mobility was even more dramatic, rising on average by almost 77%.
Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multilingualism, said “These figures reveal that the new Member States are fully taking part in the benefits of membership of the EU. Their rapid integration into the Erasmus scheme directly contributes to its continued success, ensuring that additional generations of Europe’s bright young people can enjoy the benefits of academic, cultural and linguistic exchange. This is all the more significant, as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Erasmus programme next year. Already, Europe’s universities are welcoming the grown-up children of former Erasmus students. The hundreds of thousands of students who have benefited from the scheme since 1987 form a growing body of highly educated Europeans with cross-cultural and multi-lingual experience, essential requirements for the dynamic, knowledge-based European Union of the future.”
In the academic year 2004/2005, 144,037 Erasmus students benefited from a university exchange, an increase of 6.3% on the previous year. Over the same period, 20,877 university teaching staff also participated in Erasmus exchanges, an increase of 12.9%. Most of the 31 participating countries experienced a growth in incoming mobility, whereas the figures for outgoing mobility from the participating countries were more varied. Spain remained the most popular destination for students, welcoming 25,511 over the year, with France in second place (20,519), followed by Germany (17,273) and the United Kingdom (16,266). Germany was again the primary destination for teaching staff, hosting 2,623 over the year, followed by France (2,261) and Italy (1,897).
However, the most dramatic increases in student and teacher mobility were observed in the new Member States. Student exchanges in those countries rose on average by 36.3% during 2004/05, the first full academic year since they joined the EU, while Erasmus teacher mobility increased by an average of 76.7%.
The academic year 2004-2005 was also the first in which Turkish universities participated in the Erasmus programme: some 1,142 Turkish students benefited, while 299 students from other participating countries spent a few months in Turkish universities.
The Commissioner pointed out that “Student exchanges between the Central and Eastern European Countries were not permitted under the Erasmus scheme before full membership of the EU, but for the ten new Member States it is now possible for Erasmus student and teacher exchanges to take place among them.”
Business studies was again the most popular subject area for student exchanges, followed by languages/philology and social sciences. The profile was slightly different for Erasmus teacher exchanges, where the most popular subject area was languages/ philology, followed by engineering/technology and business studies.
Erasmus gives university students (except for students enrolled in their
first year of higher education) the opportunity to study for a period of 3-12
months at a university or higher education establishment in another
participating country. Erasmus also provides support for teachers giving
generally short courses, as part of the official curriculum of a partner
university in another European country.
Actual Number of outgoing ERASMUS Students (by Country of Home institutions) 2002/03-2004/05
Actual Number of incoming ERASMUS Students (by Host Country) 2002/03-2004/05
 EUI : European University Institute Florence
Data source : National Agency final reports