25 years after its launch, Erasmus has become the best known EU programme and the most successful student exchange scheme in the world. More than 231 000 students received Erasmus grants to study or train abroad during the 2010-11 academic year – a new record and an 8.5% increase compared to the previous year. Since 1987, the programme has provided more than 2.5 million European students with the opportunity to go abroad to study at a higher education institution or for a job placement in a company. Of the total number of students supported in 2010-11, around 190 000 chose to spend up to 12 months of their degree programme abroad at a university or other higher education institution in one of 32 countries then participating in Erasmus (27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. Switzerland became the 33rd country to join Erasmus as from 2011-12).
“The Erasmus programme, whose silver anniversary we are celebrating this year, is one of the biggest success stories of the European Union. The figures speak for themselves – and would have been even higher if we had the resources to match demand. In these difficult times, the skills gained through Erasmus studies and placements are more valuable than ever,” says Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Erasmus not only caters for students and higher education staff, but, through funding for transnational projects and networks, it also enables higher education institutions to work together. Erasmus has enabled these institutions to innovate in teaching, and improved systems for the recognition of study periods abroad; it has also boosted student support services, cooperation with business and institutional management. Last November, the Commission presented its proposal for 'Erasmus for All', a new umbrella programme bringing Erasmus together with all the other EU and international schemes for education, training, youth and sport, replacing seven existing programmes with one. The Commission has proposed a budget of €19 billion for Erasmus for All in 2014-2020, an increase of approximately 70% compared to the current seven-year budget for existing programmes. Two-thirds of funding under “Erasmus for All” would provide grants to enhance knowledge and skills.
The University of Bergen is proudly participating in Erasmus for more than 20 years. The University´s success with Erasmus is remarkable and it has boosted the internationalisation of the institution tremendously. More popular than ever, 250 Bergen undergraduate and graduate students have applied for an Erasmus grant for the academic year 2012/2013.