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Happy birthday, ERASMUS!

2012 marks the “silver anniversary” of the ERASMUS Programme—the largest and most well-known student mobility scheme of the European Union. On 30 January 2012, the European Commissioner for Education and Culture (EAC), Androulla Vassiliou, held a Brussels press conference and announced a series of festivities that will be held throughout the year to mark this event. Since its inception in 1987, the programme has funded the mobility of close to 3 million students for short-term study in another ERASMUS participating country in Europe. Currently, 33 countries take part in this mobility scheme, namely the 27 EU member states, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Student demand for participation in ERASMUS strongly exceeds the availability of grants in most countries, according to the DG EAC, which oversees the implementation of the programme in member states. As a result, the Commission has called for a significant increase in the EU’s support for higher education mobility under its proposal for the future generation of EU education programmes, which is due to start in 2014. ERASMUS will also likely lend its name to the new education programme—Erasmus for all—which will encompass, if adopted by the European Parliament and Council, all education levels for the period 2014-2020 and leave aside other brand names, such as Erasmus Mundus.

A recent study coordinated by ACA—Mapping mobility in European higher education—shows that mobility flows funded by the programme clearly play a significant role in a number of European countries. Amongst other elements, the study compared ERASMUS and degree mobility trends in 32 European states. Notably, the programme supports more than a third of all outgoing students from Spain, the Czech Republic and Belgium, and accounts for about a third of all inflows into Finland, Malta, Slovenia and Spain. The ACA study has recently been made available in book form by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and can be ordered free of charge directly from the publisher (by writing to Lemmens Verlag.

DG EAC press release