News archive - From Erasmus to Erasmus+: a story of 30 years

On 26 January 2017, the European Commission launched celebrations on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the start of Erasmus, one of the most successful programmes of the European Union.

The Commission also published the Erasmus+ Annual Report 2015, which covers the second year of Erasmus+, the current programme for education, training, youth and sport from 2014 to 2020.

How has Erasmus evolved over the last 30 years?

The Erasmus programme was established in 1987 as an exchange programme for higher education students. Ever since the first year, when 3,200 students from 11 European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom) participated, the programme has constantly been evolving. Today, Erasmus+ offers a wide range of opportunities in higher education, vocational education and training, school education, adult education, youth and sport. These are open to learners, educators and youth workers. Over the past 30 years, the programme has given 9 million people the chance to study, train, volunteer or gain professional experience abroad. Erasmus+ has stronger links with the labour market than its predecessor programmes, enabling students to spend traineeship periods in companies or organisations abroad and through non-formal learning experiences preparing young people for the job market and for participation in civic life.

How successful has the Erasmus programme been?

For 30 years, mobility has helped to provide people with the education, skills and competences they need to lead independent and fulfilling lives. It has also given people a European experience and sense of belonging to a community. Various evaluations and impact assessments have underlined the value of mobility. They show that going abroad equips young people in Europe with the labour market skills both of today and tomorrow and improves their prospects for a successful career. Mobile students are twice as likely to have found a job one year after graduation compared to their non-mobile counterparts, and one in three students who do traineeships abroad is then offered a position by their host company.In addition, surveys conducted with participants since 2014 clearly show how positively the students regard this experience: 96% say they are satisfied with having taken part in the programme.

Beyond mobility, what does Erasmus+ offer?

Erasmus+ has also grown to become much more than mobility. Cooperation projects are a tool offering organisations active in the fields of education, training, youth and sport the opportunity to form partnerships with each other, as well as with other actors such as companies and public authorities. These cooperation projects enhance quality and drive innovation, for example by improving the policies that are essential to economic growth and job creation. A comprehensive overview of past and ongoing projects can be found here.

How is the EU marking the 30th anniversary of Erasmus?

The 30th anniversary will be celebrated with a year-long programme of events at European, national and local levels with the support of – and inspiration from – people who have taken part in Erasmus. Through these events and online communication with citizens, the Commission wants to foster an open dialogue on how to strengthen the programme to enable it to contribute to European society in the future.

Erasmus+: the second year

The Erasmus+ Annual Report 2015 gives an overview of the progress achieved during the second year of the programme’s implementation and outlines how Erasmus+ priorities in 2015 were shaped by societal developments.

What were the main developments in 2015?

Erasmus+ has a significant role to play in promoting social inclusion, including of newly arrived refugees and migrants. The programme now has an increased focus on their education needs, and the programme’s Online Linguistic Support was extended by €4 million to benefit 100,000 refugees over the next three years.

Stronger emphasis has also been placed on measures to help tackle radicalisation through Erasmus+ actions. Education and youth actions play a pivotal role in fostering social integration, enhancing intercultural understanding and developing a sense of belonging to a community. Erasmus+ funds projects which, for example, help to equip youth workers across Europe and in neighbouring regions with better skills to do their work and support the inclusion of young people: in 2015, around €28 million supported some 38,000 youth workers taking part in Erasmus+ projects.

Did mobility increase in 2015?

Mobility actions continued to be popular in 2015: the number of applications rose by 10% compared to the previous year.

In total 678,000 learners and staff in 19,600 projects from all fields of education, training and youth received support during the second year of Erasmus+ with grants amounting to €2.1 billion. That was more than ever before. For the first time, European higher education institutions were able to apply for exchanges with institutions throughout the world, resulting in €110 million in grants for more than 28,000 individuals. In addition, 32 Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degrees were set up by international consortia of higher education institutions during the second year of Erasmus+, each of them offering EU-funded scholarships to students worldwide.

What other projects related to education, training and youth received funding in 2015?

During its second year, Erasmus+ also funded more than 1,900 Strategic Partnership projects across education, training and youth sectors, bringing together around 11,000 organisations within and outside those sectors. The projects address key challenges such as quality in teaching and training, employability, new technologies and digital skills and the promotion of inclusion and tolerance.

In 2015, the programme also supported 10 new cooperation projects among higher education institutions and enterprises (“knowledge alliances”), 8 vocational study and training institutions with enterprises (“sector skills alliances”) and 279 initiatives to strengthen education and youth work systems in developing countries (“capacity building projects”), in Asia, Africa and Latin America for example.

How does the programme support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Erasmus exchanges are open to everyone who wants to apply. In line with its objective of promoting equity and inclusion, the programme has facilitated access for people facing obstacles related to their economic situation, disability, social status, geographic remoteness or health-related conditions. They currently represent around 10% of mobile participants. Erasmus+ foresees additional funding of €100-200 per month for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds based on national criteria. It is already providing more than 39,000 disadvantaged students with top-up grants. In the field of youth, one out of three young persons taking part in a youth exchange comes from a disadvantaged socio-economic background. Taking part in the European Voluntary Service and youth exchanges is free and open to everybody. The Programme covers volunteers’ travel and living costs, pocket money, insurance and a discount card.

What developments were there in the sport sector?

In Erasmus+ Sport, the number of projects selected for funding grew to 53 in 2015. 8 projects were directly linked to the first edition of the European Week of Sport, while 45 others covered a wide range of different sports fields, with a particular focus on health-enhancing physical activity and dual careers of athletes.

What data is available on finalised Erasmus+ projects?

The first Erasmus+ mobility projects have come to an end, and statistics for finalised activities funded in the 2014-15 academic year are now available. They show that Erasmus+ student mobility, with a higher number than ever before – more than 290,000 student mobilities for study and traineeships – has managed to break yet another record. The top 3 sending countries have remained the same as in previous years: France (39,985), Germany (39,719) and Spain (36,842). The countries receiving the highest number of students are Spain (42,537), Germany (32,871) and the United Kingdom (30,183). The average monthly grant to students was €281.

For More Information


Erasmus+ (the Erasmus+ Annual Report 2015; factsheets; video clips; testimonials; infographics)

More infographics are available here.


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Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on February 7, 2017
Modified on February 9, 2017