What is Erasmus? A posh eraser? An excuse to party in a foreign country? Nope, Erasmus stands for European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.
It’s a Higher Education exchange programme for students, teachers and institutions, run in the UK by the British Council. Basically, it’s a chance for universities and students across 33 countries to mingle, learn new skills and expand their horizons.
Over two million students have done Erasmus since it first started in 1987. That’s a lot of mingling. Of course it isn’t all about socialising; Erasmus gives students the chance to study, do a work placement or work as a language assistant in another European country during their time at university.
You don’t have to be a language student to get involved either; as long as your university or college offers Erasmus for your subject, you can do it.
Tell me more
Erasmus schemes can last between three months and a year. You may be required to do Erasmus as part of your degree, or you might simply decide to spread your wings and spend a few months in another country.
Either way, it will look good on your CV, help you to become more motivated, make you more independent, improve your language skills and allow you to gain some great work experience.
Above all, it’s pretty good fun and it’s a great way to meet new people. According to the British Council, “nearly one in ten find their life partner while doing their Erasmus programme.”* Whoever thought Erasmus would be a matchmaker too?!
The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) means that any academic credits earned in your institute abroad can also count towards your final degree.
Where can I go?
Over 30 European countries are involved in the scheme. Spain, Italy, Germany and France tend to be the most popular destinations for Erasmus students, but there are many opportunities further afield in countries like Slovenia, Norway, Croatia and Malta.
You won’t just be spending your time beavering away working and studying, Erasmus gives you the time and the resources to explore another country and its culture in a way you wouldn’t on holiday.
Since Erasmus is arranged through your university or college, you’ll have to see what European institutions they have an exchange agreement with if you want to study abroad.
If you can’t find any information, get in contact with your university/college’s Erasmus co-ordinator. You can also use IRIS service to scope out the universities and countries where you want to visit.
Can I do Erasmus and how much will it cost?
To be eligible for Erasmus you must be in higher education, studying a degree or diploma and have completed your first year. The beauty of Erasmus is that you don’t have to pay extra tuition fees for the university you visit. Another great feature of Erasmus is that you can get a grant for your study or work placement. For 2015/16, the grant is between €250 and €400 a month.
There is also a one-off grant of €400 for students who choose to do Erasmus in the less popular countries. Currently, if you spend a full academic year (24 weeks) on an Erasmus scheme, then you don’t have to pay tuition fees for your home-based university or college.
How do I apply for Erasmus?
You usually apply for Erasmus through your institution. Contact your university or college’s Erasmus co-ordinator; they will be the person allocating the Erasmus places for each subject area. Applications are usually completed online between October and February.
If you get a place, your university will contact your host university to nominate you formally. You’ll then be contacted by the host university and given all the relevant information about the admissions process.