Erasmus Programme: Wikis

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Logo of the Erasmus Programme
Erasmus students at a party in the Netherlands

The Erasmus Programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), is a European Union (EU) student exchange programme established in 1987. It forms a major part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013, and is the operational framework for the European Commission's initiatives in higher education.

The Erasmus Programme, together with a number of other independent Programmes, was incorporated into the SOCRATES Programme established by the European Commission in 1994. The Socrates Programme ended on 31 December 1999 and was replaced with the Socrates II Programme on 24 January 2000, which in turn was replaced by the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 on 1 January 2007.

Contents

Aims

Erasmus has a number of specific objectives:

  1. improve the quality and to increase the volume of student and teaching staff mobility throughout Europe, so as to achieve at least 3 million student and teacher exchanges by 2012
  2. to improve the quality and increase the amount of multilateral cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe
  3. to improve and increase cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises
  4. to spread innovation and new pedagogic practice and supports between universities in Europe

Apart from the student mobility mentioned in the first objective, which is the most visible and "iconic" element in the Programme, support is also given to developing closer links between university faculties.

The aim of Erasmus is to encourage and support academic mobility of higher education students and teachers within the European Union, the European Economic Area countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well as EU candidate country such as Turkey. Switzerland is again eligible for membership since 2007, after a period of absence following the rejection by that country of closer links with the European Union in the late 1990s. During that time span, Swiss universities pursued inter-university collaboration with other European institutions through a system closely based on Erasmus.

History

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Origins of the name

The Programme is named after the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, known as an opponent of dogmatism, who lived and worked in many places in Europe to expand his knowledge and gain new insights, and who left his fortune to the University of Basel in Switzerland. It was later given the backronym European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.

1987 European Commission proposal

By the time the Erasmus Programme was adopted in June 1987, the European Commission had been supporting pilot student exchanges for 6 years. It proposed the original Erasmus Programme in early 1986, but reaction from the then Member States varied: those with substantial exchange Programmes of their own (essentially France, Germany and the United Kingdom) were broadly hostile; the remaining countries were broadly in favour. Exchanges between the Member States and Manuel Marin, the responsible member of the European Commission deteriorated, and the latter withdrew the proposal in early 1987 to protest against the inadequacy of the triennial budget proposed by some Member States. However, in the next few months a compromise was worked out with a majority of Member States, and the Programme was adopted by simple majority in June 1987.

European Court of Justice decision

This method of voting was not accepted by some of the opposing Member States, who challenged the adoption of the decision before the European Court of Justice. Although the Court held that the adoption was procedurally flawed, it maintained the substance of the decision; a further decision, adapted in the light of the jurisprudence, was rapidly adopted by the Council of Ministers.

Adoption and growth

The Programme built on the 1981-1986 pilot student exchanges, and although it was formally adopted only shortly before the beginning of the academic year 1987/8, it was still possible for 3,244 students to participate in Erasmus in its first year. In 2006, over 150,000 students, or almost 1% of the European student population, took part. The proportion is higher among university teachers, where Erasmus teacher mobility is 1.9% of the teacher population in Europe, or 20,877 people.

In the past twenty years, well over one-and-a-half million students [1] - 60% of Erasmus being female - have benefited from Erasmus grants, and the European Commission aims to reach a total of 3 million by 2012.

Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013

The Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 replaced the Socrates Programme as the overall umbrella under which the Erasmus (and other) Programmes operate from 2007.

Erasmus and Erasmus MUNDUS

EuMAS, an Erasmus Mundus Programme

The Erasmus Mundus Programme is another, parallel Programme that is oriented towards globalising European education. Whereas the Erasmus Programme is open to Europeans, the Erasmus Mundus is open to non-Europeans with Europeans being exceptional cases. A typical example of an educational Programme under the Erasmus Mundus is EuMAS.

Participation

There are currently 2,199 higher education institutions participating in Erasmus across the 31 countries involved in the Socrates Programme and over 1.6 million students[2] have already taken part.

Requirements

To participate in the Erasmus Programme students must be studying for a degree or diploma at a tertiary-level institution and must have completed their first year. They also have to be a citizen of one of the countries in the wider Lifelong Learning Programme.

Details

Students who join the Erasmus Programme study for a period of at least 3 months to an academic year in another European country. The Erasmus Programme guarantees that the period spent abroad is recognised by their university when they come back as long as they abide by terms previously agreed.

A main part of the Programme is that students do not pay extra tuition fees to the university that they visit. Students can also apply for an Erasmus grant to help cover the additional expense of living abroad. Students with disabilities can also apply for additional grant to cover extraordinary expenses. The disability dimension is a part of EU work to promote opportunities for the disabled.

In order to reduce expenses and increase mobility, many students also use the European Commission-supported accommodation network, CasaSwap, which is a free website where students and young people can rent, sublet, offer and swap accommodation - on a national and international basis. A derived benefit is that students can share knowledge and exchange tips and hints with each other before and after going abroad.

The "Erasmus experience"

Cultural phenomenon

For many European students, the Erasmus Programme is their first time living and studying abroad. Hence, it has become a cultural phenomenon and is very popular among European students, going on to become the subject of movies such as French film L'Auberge espagnole,[3], which, it is claimed, has led to an increase in potential Erasmus students in Barcelona, Spain.

The Programme fosters not only learning and understanding of the host country, but also a sense of community among students from different countries and it can be hard to know what one might expect. The Erasmus experience is considered both a time for learning as well as a chance to socialize. "Erasmus parties" are known in university cities across Europe for being boisterous, multilingual events.

Tutors are often keen for students of subjects, such as Politics or International Relations, to participate in Erasmus. It is seen as a great opportunity to study abroad while not having the expense of studying outside the European Union as the grant available to Erasmus students are not available to those opting to leave the continent to study. Simply having Erasmus on one's Curriculum Vitae is seen as being a very positive thing because that one word explains the whole experience of studying abroad. Therefore, those who partake in the Programme are considered more employable than those who do not.

Some academics have speculated that former Erasmus students will prove to be a powerful force in creating a pan-European identity. The political scientist Stefan Wolff, for example, has argued that "Give it 15, 20 or 25 years, and Europe will be run by leaders with a completely different socialization from those of today", referring to the so-called 'Erasmus generation'.[4]

See also

References

External links

Official websites

Unofficial websites


Simple English

The Erasmus Programme is an European Union project which intends to promote the mobility of students and university teachers among EU countries and Turkey, Norway and Switzerland. Its name stands for "European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students".Its name is also in honor of the humanist Desiderius Erasmus.


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