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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 17 October 2013

Commissioner calls on UK students and apprentices to sign up for Erasmus+

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will highlight the increased European Union support which will be available from January under the new Erasmus+ programme when she visits the London Language Show on 18 October. Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, will provide grants for more than four million people across the EU – most aged under 25 – to spend part of their studies or training in another country. This international experience is aimed at increasing knowledge of foreign languages and other skills which boost employability. Envisaged to have a budget of nearly €15 billion1 between 2014 and 2020, Erasmus+ is open to students, apprentices, teachers, youth leaders and volunteers.

Nearly 40 000 British citizens currently receive EU grants to study, train or volunteer abroad each year under existing EU grant schemes. This compares with 83 000 a year in Germany and more than 70 000 a year in both France and Spain.

"We want to encourage more young people in the UK to take full advantage of the grants and opportunities available through Erasmus+. It's not just about improving language skills. It's about opening up minds to new ideas and meeting people from different cultures. It's an experience which boosts adaptability, self-confidence and job prospects. It's also a lot of fun – so, don't miss out, sign up for Erasmus+", said Mrs Vassiliou,

During her visit to the London Language Show, the Commissioner will open a public conference entitled “No island is an island – European perspectives on language learning in Britain”. The aim is to strengthen awareness of the economic and social benefits of language learning.

Recent statistics on foreign language learning in the UK present a mixed picture. The number of UK universities offering degrees in the two most popular languages has plunged by 30% for French (from 105 courses to 70) and more than 50% (from 105 to 50) for German studies since 2000. The number of 18 year olds applying to study European languages has also fallen by nearly 17% since 2010, according to UCAS, the higher-education admissions management organisation.

The picture is brighter at GCSE level: UK Government figures show a near 16% growth in the number of students taking foreign language GCSEs this year, a rise in part attributed to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate. Experts believe that this increase will have a significant impact on the numbers taking languages at A level or university in future. Another cause for optimism is that from September 2014, compulsory language teaching in England's primary schools will start at age 7.

More than 10 000 people are expected to visit the London Language Show, which takes place at Olympia Central, from 18 to 20 October. The show regularly attracts major business recruiters, SMEs and education specialists. See IP/13/829.


Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, will be launched in January 2014. It replaces the existing Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the bilateral cooperation programme with industrialised countries.

Erasmus+ is due to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council (Member State Ministers) before the end of this year. The total budget for Erasmus+ is envisaged to be nearly €15 billion – which is 40% higher than existing mobility programmes. More than half of the expected number of beneficiaries will be higher education or vocation students and apprentices.

Erasmus+ is managed by national agencies in each Member State.

To find out about the future grants under Erasmus+, contact the international office at your university or training institution. Alternatively, you can contact the following:

Higher education students:

British Council - Erasmus
UK Erasmus National Agency
British Council Wales
1 Kingsway
UK-Cardiff CF10 3AQ
Tel: (44) 29 2092 4311
Fax: (44) 29 2092 4300

Apprentices and adult education:

UK National Agency - Leonardo, Grundtvig & Transversal Programmes - Ecorys
Vincent House
Quay Place
92-93 Edward Street
UK-Birmingham B1 2RA
Tel: (44) 845 199 2929
Fax: (44) 121 212 8899

Schools' partnerships:

British Council - Comenius

10, Spring Gardens
UK-London SW1A 2BN
Tel: (44) 161 957 7755
Fax: (44) 207 389 4426

For more information

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

1 :

Nearly €15 billion taking account of estimated inflation in 2014-2020. This is the equivalent of €13 billion in 'fixed'/constant 2011 prices.

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