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Erasmus at 30: what it is and how it works


Erasmus at 30: what it is and how it works

The Erasmus Programme is celebrating its 30th birthday.

The European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students was launched in 1987.

The European Commission says “Whether people have improved their chances of finding a job, developed fresh persepectives on sustainable development, learnt a new language, gained a clearer idea of European citizenship or found a new passion for volunteering: Erasmus+ (the programme’s new name) has produced many success stories.”

Here, Euronews guides you through the who, what, why, where and when of Erasmus and what it has meant for Europe.


  • Also named after the Dutch Renaissance humanist philosopher and scholar
  • Millions of young people have benefited
  • Open to all secondary school students (previously only tertiary level)

* What?

  • At least three months study or a two month internship in another EU or partner country
  • Maximum duration is one year
  • Period spent abroad must be recognised on return


  • To help people off all ages develop and share knowledge
  • Institutions and organisations in different countries involved
  • An impact study highlighting the outcomes of the Erasmus programme when it ended in 2014European


  • 4,000 higher education institutions
  • Across more than 30 countries
  • Most popular destinations are France, Germany and Spain


  • Launched in 1987
  • Erasmus + launched 2014-2020


1,000,000 babies

Research suggests the exchange programme is a good way to find a job – and a partner.

One in four Erasmus students hooked up with their life partner during their studies abroad, according to the Erasmus Impact Study

The EU executive estimates that around 1,000,000 babies are likely to have been born to Erasmus couples since 1997.

Erasmus +

Launched to span from 2014 to 2020, the 14.7 billion euro framework programme encompasses opportunities in education, training, youth and sport

The programme aims to:

  • Reduce unemployment, especially among the young
  • Promote adult learning
  • Encourage young people to participate in European democracy
  • Support innovation, cooperation and reform
  • Reduce early school leaving
  • Promote cooperation and mobility between EU partner countries

A mid-term review of the Erasmus+ programme is due to be completed in 2017.

Find out more about Erasmus + education, training, youth and sport opportunities in your country here


More than 200,000 UK students have taken part in the Erasmus scheme since it began in 1987.

Their grants have been paid by EU funding.

However, it is being suggested a post-Brexit UK could be excluded from the Erasmus scheme.

Experts say this could impact on university student finances, which are already facing a funding crisis for science, research and other grants.

“We face a sad moment of uncertainty, after 30 years of this enrichment of so many lives,” says the scheme’s UK director, Ruth Sinclair-Jones.

The roll of honour

The head of the EU’s diplomatic service explains what being an Erasmus student meant for for her:

London-based commentator Agnes Poirier says the scheme plays a pivotal role in uniting the continent:

French education minister Najat Belkacem wants the funding for Erasmus to be increased:

Sofia Corradi – “Mamma Erasmus”

Long before his starring role in the hit US police series “The Wire”, UK actor Dominic West was an Erasmus student.

Erasmus – the final mot