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Sweden’s recently successful campaign to raise students’ awareness of the Erasmus programme will continue this autumn. The initiative’s primary goal is to increase the number of outgoing students by pointing out the advantages of Erasmus and facilitating contact between students and study guidance counsellors. The campaign consists of advertisements in popular magazines, on paper coffee cups, via campus posters, online (including a website with a short film and ‘fast facts’), as well as through the use of outdoor billboards.
The project started in 2008 when Sweden set a target of 3000 outgoing Erasmus students. The International Program Office for Education and Training in Sweden gave a mandate to SIFO Research International to carry out a survey. The aim was to explore university students’ attitudes about studying abroad in general and their existing knowledge about and attitudes towards the Erasmus programme in particular. Eighty percent of the student respondents indicated that their own programme of studies offered opportunities to study abroad, and among those who were interested in studying abroad (67 percent), only 38 percent indicated that they actually would. Furthermore, only half of all students had heard of Erasmus by name.
It is difficult to assess the direct impact of the national campaign, but an increase in student awareness about Erasmus has been registered. A survey indicates that more than 60 percent of the students are aware of the campaign, 24 percent have read specific text from the effort, and 40 percent consider it good advertising. There has also been a total of 15 000 unique visitors to the campaign’s website. Most importantly, in the academic year 2008-2009 the number of outgoing Erasmus students in Sweden was 2 412 while the preliminary numbers for 2009-2010 indicate an increase of at least 300 students.