The number of students and university staff who received grants from the European Union’s Erasmus programme was at a record high during the last academic year – rising by 6% – according to figures published today (10 July) by the European Commission.
In 2012-13, more than 260,000 students and more than 50,000 staff at higher education institutions received an average monthly grant of €253 to go abroad to study, work, teach or receive training. The EU programme allows people to spend between three months and a year in another European country.
The highest increase was in Malta, which saw a 40% rise in the number of Erasmus students, followed by Cyprus with a 36% increase, and Croatia with 27%. Fourth on the list was Turkey (a rise of 22%) – the programme includes the 28 EU member states and five partner countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).
Students from Spain were the most likely to head abroad to study with the help of Erasmus – just under 40,000 of them in 2012-13 – followed by France and Germany. Those three countries were also the most popular destinations. The United Kingdom hosted almost twice as many students as it sent abroad: 27,000 compared to 14,500.
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Androulla Vassiliou, the European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, said that over the past 27 years more than 3 million students have received Erasmus grants. “This increase of 15,000 students compared to last year demonstrates the programme’s success,” she said.
Yana Toom, an Estonian liberal MEP, said that investing in student mobility is “important in times of austerity” and that studying abroad can contribute to “additional skills valued by employers such as languages and flexibility”.
In January, the Erasmus+ programme was launched, which also includes youth and sport exchanges. The 2014-20 budget for the scheme is nearly €15 billion and it is estimated that around four million people will take advantage of the funding to work or study abroad.