Erasmus programme: Spain the main aim for students
In the 30 years since it was first launched, five million people have taken part in the Erasmus programme, which enables youngsters to go abroad to continue their studies. It has since expanded over the years to include people at different stages of their lives, with Spain remaining the most popular destination for students.
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Erasmus is now older than most of its target audience! Born 30 years ago, on 15 June 1987 when it was adopted by the Council of Education Ministers of the European Union, the programme originally included 11 countries (Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom). It has since expanded over the years to encompass 33 participating countries and 169 other partner countries throughout the world, including the likes of Switzerland and Turkey.
Spain the favoured destination
In Europe, Spain remains the most popular country for foreign students, and also has the highest number of domestic students who go abroad to one of the European partner establishments. "The cost of living is low and the weather is good," said Erasmus spokesman Lucas Chevalier of Spain’s popularity.
Three Spanish universities occupy the podium of seats of learning welcoming the highest number of students during the 2013–2014 academic year: the University of Granada (1,918 students), the University of Complutense in Madrid (1,731), and the University of Valencia (1,722).
Five million alumni
In France, if you compare the students going on an exchange with the total number of students on campus, the University of Savoie comes out on top with 2.7% doing an exchange in 2012–2013, followed by the University of Grenoble (2.13% during the same academic year). The University of Lorraine holds the record for the number of students who have done an exchange.
In the academic year 1987–1988 when the programme was first launched, 3,244 students went on a university exchange. 30 years on, it is estimated that over five million people have benefited from the programme, including 3.3 million students.
2014–2020 budget of 16.4 billion euros
The Erasmus target audience has continually evolved and expanded. Nowadays it also includes primary, secondary and vocational school pupils, apprentices and job-seekers. For the period from 2014 to 2020, the programme has a budget of almost 16.4 billion euros. Its needs are also growing, however, and the EU will have to increase its support for the programme for it to be able to continue, and to enable as many people as possible to benefit from it.
The programme has thus been renegotiated half-way through the 2014–2020 period, to prepare for the next cycle which will have to provide solutions to the consequences of the UK Brexit vote. The issue of how to finance the exchanges and the tuition fees is one that is coming into sharper focus, since a great deal is at stake in terms of continuing and expanding mobility projects, encouraging partnerships (between universities and with businesses) and financing European projects.
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