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Studying Abroad with Erasmus – How to apply

So you have decided to take some time during your University studies to explore the world outside your national boundaries and discovered Erasmus. This article will guide you through the initial steps you need to take in order to apply and become one of the millions of students who have studied abroad with Erasmus.
The Erasmus applictaion
The Erasmus applictaion

Where to start

The best place to start looking into study abroad opportunities will be on your University’s website. Your University should have a designated area on its website for international concerns such as studies abroad. Here you should be able to find the most important information regarding Erasmus or any other exchange opportunities your specific institution may be offering.
After this, you will want to contact the International Relations Office of your University. These offices will have any further information needed to help decide which Universities to apply to and the staff will also be able to answer most of your questions. As there are very many different programmes to study on and competition can be great, it is important to find the right programme for yourself. As this may be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to study abroad, you will want to get the initial programme selection right.

What to consider before applying

Once you have decided where you would like to go, it is easy to get overly enthusiastic and excited. However, before you frantically start filling out the application form, there are a few things to be considered.
Make sure you check carefully whether you are eligible. Not all programmes have the same requirements and it pays to double check the specific requirements for each programme. One key requirement is often proof of sufficiency of the English language. Usually applicants must have attained a minimum of B2 level on the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) or equivalent.

Also, you may want to ensure that the organisation fulfils all the necessary requirements. Higher Education Institutions are required to hold an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education and be registered on ECAS and have a Participant Identification Code.

Be aware of the deadlines

The deadlines can close quite a while before the actual programmes commence and it is easy to miss them. Some programmes may have different deadlines for different stages of the application process. Check the deadlines early to ensure you have everything organised in time. This includes checking what documents will be necessary for the application and ensuring that you will have these prepared before the deadline.

Make sure you read the application guidelines of your chosen programmes carefully. These guidelines often give you helpful advice in order to complete a successful application. They may also include other information which will help you prepare for your time abroad.

How to ace your letter of motivation

Many students applying to study abroad shrug at the thought of writing their personal statement or letter of motivation to support their application to Erasmus. Of course the personal statement will play a major role in the selection process. However, it is calming to know that you don’t need to commit to any fancy research to ace the letter of motivation. All the reviewers want to see is a reflection of your personal reasons and motivations to study on that particular programme.

Although there are many sample letters of motivation for Erasmus applications available on the internet, beware not to merely copy elements into your own letter, as it is crucial that your letter is original.
You could include why you are applying for the programme, what your expectations are, why you feel that you are personally suitable, what experiences led you to this application etc.
Make sure that your statements reflect who you are. This can be easily achieved by highlighting concrete examples from your personal experience.
Usually, your home institution will give you a limited word count for the personal statement. This means that you will need to express yourself as specifically and efficiently as possible. A coherent and effective structure to your letter will aid this and will also make it easier for the reviewers to read your letter.
In the event that a word count is not given, try to keep your letter at a reasonable length. Usually this means approximately 1 to 2 pages.
The key is to keep it simple, honest, yet interesting. Make sure you proofread your letter. It sometimes pays to review the letter a few days after its completion.

What other documents you will need to prepare

Apart from the application form and the personal statement, you will be expected to hand in supporting documents.
You should be able to find a list in the guidelines for your chosen programme.

It is very likely, that you will be expected to hand in the following supporting documents (non-exhaustive):

  • Your current transcripts
  • Language Certificates
  • Your module choices
  • An up-to-date version of your CV
  • A home institution approval document
  • Academic referee reports
  • Information on your disability, if applicable