Brussels, 13 May 2008
Established in 1987, Erasmus, the EU's flagship education and training programme for mobility and cooperation in higher education across Europe, continues to expand. Erasmus receives approximately € 450 million per annum under the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013. For the academic year 2006/07, figures show that 3% more students and 10% more university teachers went abroad compared to the previous year. This brought the total participants to almost 160 000 students and 26 000 teachers in that year alone. Central and Eastern European countries, as well as Turkey, have had the biggest growth in the numbers participating in the programme.
Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for education, training, culture and youth, stressed that “Europe needs more and better mobility at all levels, and Erasmus is an excellent way forward. Erasmus brings improved knowledge, better cooperation and intercultural skills for its participants, and through them ultimately benefits all Europeans. In particular, I welcome that students in the new member states are increasingly taking up what Erasmus offers them. The European Commission's vision is that participation in the Erasmus programme should be the general rule, rather than the exception, for both students and teachers.”
Student and teacher mobility
During the 20-year period from 1987 to 2007, approximately 1.7 million students benefited from a study period abroad under the Erasmus programme with 159 324 Erasmus students in the academic year 2006/07. This represents an annual increase of 3.2% compared to 7.2% in the previous year.
Germany continued to be the biggest sender with 23 884 Erasmus students followed by France (22 981), Spain (22 322) and Italy (17 195). Spain remained the most popular destination for students, receiving 27 464 over the year, with France in second place (20 673), followed by Germany (17 878) and the United Kingdom (16 508).
Student mobility from the 12 EU Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 rose by 10%, which is significantly above the European average.
While the overall number of mobile students has increased, unfortunately some countries experienced a decrease (Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Norway and Spain) or stagnation (Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden) in the numbers of outgoing Erasmus students. The trend towards falling student numbers, however, appears to have halted in some countries, for example in the United Kingdom.
For the first time, countries such as Germany, Greece, France and the Netherlands had static or decreasing numbers of incoming students.
Business studies are still the most popular subject area for Erasmus students. Languages/philological sciences and social sciences occupy the second and third spots. The average duration of an Erasmus student mobility period is 6.5 months.
Efforts had been made to increase the average grant that students get from the Erasmus budget. The European average monthly grant amounted to € 192 in 2006/2007, up by 22% from the previous year, and is expected to further increase in the current year.
The number of teachers that benefited from mobility through Erasmus has been steadily increasing in recent years. In the academic year 2006/07 25 809 teachers participated in Erasmus exchanges, a 10% increase compared to the previous year.
Germany, Spain and France sent the highest number of teachers and Germany, France and Italy are the biggest recipients of Erasmus teachers. Most countries experienced a growth in outgoing teacher mobility, which was highest in Turkey followed by Latvia.
Erasmus teachers are most mobile in subject areas such as languages/philological sciences, engineering/technology and business studies.
Despite continued growth in student and teacher mobility in recent years the rate of growth has slowed. In order to reach the EU target of 3 million students by 2012, an annual increase of about 9-10 % would be needed.
Erasmus is part of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme, and receives € 450 m funding each year. Currently an estimated 3.5 % of European students receive an Erasmus grant at some stage of their studies. Erasmus not only caters for the 'classic' student and teacher mobility to one of the 31 participating countries but also offers students the opportunity to undertake a business placement as part of their studies. University staff may now go on training abroad, too. Erasmus also supports higher education institutions to work together through intensive programmes, networks, projects and other measures and to reach out to the world of business and to society.
Annex 3: Data on outgoing and incoming Erasmus teachers in 2006/2007