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Impact of Erasmus+ on European identity and voting intentions among students 

Just a few days before the 2024 EU elections, the Erasmus Student Network released a breakout report of the 15th edition of their research project, the ESNsurvey. The survey, conducted from May to July 2023, focused on exchange students from the academic years 2021-2023. It aimed to assess the impact of mobility on students' sense of citizenship and their engagement in the European Parliament elections. Furthermore, it collected insights into the views of students on the priorities for the next mandate of the European Institutions and compared these findings with other relevant sources, including the Eurobarometer. 

The report revealed that participation in the Erasmus+ programme seems to strengthen students' sense of European identity. Before mobility, students primarily identified with their hometowns and countries. However, post-mobility, there was an increase in their connection to Europe and the world. The survey showed that feelings of belonging to the EU rose from 3.81 to 4.01 on a 5-point scale, highlighting the programme's role in fostering a European identity. Even though the percentages have increased after the mobility experience of international students, it’s important to note that for the majority of the nationalities represented, the feeling of European citizenship already exhibited high values before students went abroad. 

Another critical finding was a possible correlation between mobility participation and voting intentions for the EU elections. The survey indicated that 76% of mobile students intended to vote in the 2024 elections, a significant percentage, compared to the general young population's interest, as shown in the Eurobarometer, where the overall interest of the young population (15-24 age) in voting in EU elections is lower than that of the general population. This percentage reconfirms also the findings of the 2019 ESNsurvey on the same topic, where an 8 percentage point increase in voting, reaching 50.6% was remarked.. This suggests that students who experience mobility are more likely to engage in democratic processes, viewing their participation as a means to influence EU policies. 

The survey also explored the policy priorities of mobile students. Access to exchange opportunities emerged as the top priority, followed closely by digital transformation, the role of Europe in the world, and freedom of movement. 

Read the full breakout report here