Erasmus is a European Union student exchange programme which has built a reputation for being a life-changing and inspirational experience. Not surprisingly, many students want to come to Spain. In this article we consider why and what the benefits are.
There are currently more than 4,000 higher education institutions such as universities taking part in the Erasmus programme in 33 different countries. Twenty-eight are members of the EU and also the Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Turkey. In 2014 the programme changed its name slightly from Erasmus to Erasmus + to take into account the additional learning programmes that are now included.
Erasmus is available to students leaving secondary education as well as those who have completed one year of their studies in higher education. Students who join the programme study for at least three months in another European country. This period of study is then recognised by the university that they are attending. There is no charge for students attending the university abroad and there are also grants that students can apply for.
Spain is currently the country with the most Erasmus students. They played host to 42,537 in 2014-15:
The high number attributed to Spain is because of the popularity of its universities with ten out of the top twenty being located here:
University of Granada 2,329
University of Bolonia 2,035
University of Valencia 1,908
University of Madrid 1,892
Carolina University 1,862
University of Lisbon 1,816
Polytechnic University of Valencia 1,790
Spanish universities are particularly popular due to their reputation as well as the fact that students are keen to sample the Spanish way of life, including the night life and its language. Spain is also generous in handing out grants to students too.
Since 1985, Granada has been the leader in the table receiving more than 71,000 students over this period. It is particularly popular as it is cheaper than Madrid or Barcelona and has a great deal to offer in terms of culture and enjoyment. Granada also has a reputation for safety and tranquillity, good weather and low price accommodation.
The programme is supported by partners like Ryanair. Ryanair offers discounts of 15% for Erasmus students who can also take a suitcase for free. If there is a problem with Erasmus it is that there is a lot of form-filing to complete. Something, of course, that is not confined to this programme by any means.
During the 30 years of participation, Spain’s involvement has grown from sending 95 students in 1987 to 42,537 in 2014. Spain is often the leader in receiving students too. The global budget for Erasmus + in Spain for 2017 is set at 178.2 million euros. An increase of 20.6 million since 2016. So is it worth it?
The conclusion from the experts would seem to be ‘yes’. The young people who have studied for a period of time in a foreign country have a world-vision and are more mature. Those who’ve taken part are half as likely to have difficulty in finding employment over a long period of time. Five years after graduating the unemployment rate of an Erasmus student is 23% lower than for other students.
Erasmus students bring benefits to employers too. Erasmus students are considered to have greater curiosity, problem-solving skills, tolerance, are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and have greater confidence. All qualities that are attractive to employers.
As the programme now celebrates its 30th birthday, no doubt there are plenty of people who feel they have grown and developed as a result of this progressive, forward-thinking initiative.