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Several international educators in Europe have voiced concerns over the past years about the possible negative impact of the Bologna degree structure on short term student mobility, and especially on that within the Erasmus programme. However, while indicating slower growth, the most recent Erasmus data show that fears of decrease are not yet materialising.
In the academic year 2006/2007 the Erasmus programme saw an increase of 3% in student exchanges, and 10% in staff mobility compared to the previous year bringing the total number of participants to almost 160 000 students and 26 000 teachers in that academic year. However, while the totals are on the increase, compared to the 7.7% growth in student numbers the previous year, the upward curve has become somewhat less steep. To reach the EU target of 3 million students by 2012, an annual increase of about 9-10 % would be needed. In addition, the overall figures hide important differences between countries. Central and Eastern European countries, as well as Turkey, have had the biggest growth in the numbers participating in the programme, while several countries, such as Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Norway and Spain have suffered a decrease in the number of outgoing Erasmus students.
So far, in the first 20 years of Erasmus (1987-2007), about 1.7 million students have been abroad with the support of the programme.