Published: 17/05/2013 13:01
Erasmus, a European Union’s education programme designed for higher education institutions (HEIs), students and university staff, was established in 1987. Initially, it supported only student mobility, but it expanded with time and currently it includes other actions promoting international cooperation of universities.
In 25 years, almost 3 million Europeans have benefited from Erasmus, including over 2.5 million students.
Poland has participated in the Erasmus programme since the academic year 1998/99. Since 2007, Erasmus has formed a part of the Lifelong Learning Programme. Foundation for the Development of the Education System, functioning as National Agency of the Lifelong Learning Programme, manages the Erasmus programme in Poland.
Universities cooperating under the Erasmus programme can organise student and staff exchanges, and implement joint teaching projects in various fields. Students can go abroad for a study period or for a placement. Academic teachers can visit universities in different countries and deliver lectures and courses for local students, whereas other university staff may benefit from training abroad. Both students and staff can also participate in Erasmus intensive programmes. Additionally, students can learn less widely taught languages at Erasmus intensive language courses (EILC).
To universities, participation in Erasmus has been an impulse to introduce changes in the study system and to recognise periods of studies abroad. As a result of the development of international cooperation, and most of all of mobility, individual university units that support student and staff exchanges have been modernised, university management systems have been reformed, and cooperation with external partners has been improved.
Thanks to the Erasmus programme, significant steps have been taken in Europe with a view to remove obstacles to student and staff mobility. One of the most important steps was the introduction of a credit transfer system (at present called European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System – ECTS), which facilitates the recognition of study periods. The introduction of the system has been promoted and funded under the Erasmus programme. Erasmus has also contributed to the development of the idea of European Higher Education Area, which ensures greater transparency and compatibility of systems of education in individual countries and common use of the credit system (ECTS), which greatly facilitates mobility of students.
The programme has soon gained in popularity in academic community, students most of all. To many of them, a period of study abroad from a few months up to a year has been an opportunity for the first longer stay abroad. University student and staff exchanges bring people coming from different countries closer, help overcome prejudice and stereotypes. Erasmus has grown from an EU programme into a social and cultural phenomenon.