Erasmus grants are available for all levels, from undergraduate to doctoral studies. Since 2007 Erasmus has been the part of The Lifelong Learning Programme of the EU concerned with higher education.
What is the goal of Erasmus?
Erasmus was developed to support the mobility of European students within the increasingly unified European system of higher education. The three core objectives of Erasmus are:
To give students, through learning in other European countries, educational, linguistic and cultural benefits.
To encourage cooperation between different higher education institutions and enrich the educational environment of the institutes who act as hosts for foreign students.
To develop a significant group of European professionals with international experience who are open-minded as well as well-qualified in their fields, so that they can make a greater contribution to their professions and to the wider society.
Who can participate in the Erasmus programme?
Erasmus is open to all students who are enrolled at a higher education institution that has an Erasmus University Charter. Holding this Charter allows institutions to apply for funding to send and receive students and staff to other Charter holders as well as to coordinate activities and provide intensive language instruction.
A total of 33 countries are involved in the full Erasmus programme. All 28 member countries of the European Union participate in the full programme, as well as the non-EU countries of the Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Turkey. In addition Erasmus+ allows the following non-EU Partner Countries to participate in most features of the programme: Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Switzerland, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Your experience studying in another country will benefit you in many ways
Time spent in another country will give you a new and broader view of life and the world. Seeing how other people live and sharing in their culture is an important way to develop a more tolerant and understanding view of other people. You will also learn more about yourself and you may easily find the views you have of your own country changing after this time overseas.
Language training is often a part of the Erasmus experience and a second-language will open many doors for you, not only into another culture but also into job opportunities, since as a bilingual person you will find many openings for interesting and advanced positions in the global community.
Having an Erasmus Exchange on your CV marks you as adventurous, willing to take risks, open to new challenges and looking for self-improvement. These attributes make a very positive impression on job interviewers and help you stand out from the crowd of other applicants.
Since an Erasmus exchange is funded, all your fees at the host educational institution are paid. As well, your existing student grants and loans continue during the time at the host institution, so you will continue to have the support you are currently getting. Since travel and study abroad is expensive, this can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain experience and skills.
The friendships you will certainly make are valuable networking opportunities. On an Erasmus exchange you will meet not only students from the host country but also other students from different countries studying under Erasmus or other exchange programmes. The international network you create will bring lots of future professional and personal opportunities your way.
The challenge of living in a new country, away from familiar surroundings and support, will help you develop important life-skills such as self-reliance, personal organization, resourcefulness, creativity and adaptability. These useful skills will stay with you forever, helping in your future personal development and your ability to meet the challenges of the modern world.
In the end, Erasmus students always remember this period in their lives as one full of new and stimulating experiences and a really enjoyable time, which is of course the most important aspect of all.
Erasmus is not perfect and you should think about the following potential issues:
Studying in a foreign language can be difficult, so if you already know the language before you arrive you will have a distinct advantage. Training courses are often available both before going and after arriving for the placement and you should enquire at your home institution about them. If language is a real barrier for you, an increasing number of institutions in many European countries teach many of their courses in English.
Living in a new country independently may be more expensive than the arrangements you have at home, so you may need additional funding to make the placement possible. Investigate additional grants and scholarships that could be available from your home institution, or from the one you are going to, as well as from other providers.
Adapting to a new country can be difficult and periods of home-sickness and loneliness are perfectly normal. Don’t let them get you down and get out into the stimulation of your new environment and friends – that is the best cure.