Erasmus– yesterday, today and tomorrow

Since the ERASMUS programme was established in 1987, a whole generation of Europeans has learned what it means to break out of their comfort zone and study or train alongside people from other countries and different cultures. Crossing borders during one‘s studies was an exception in the first years of the programme. 30 years later it has become, if not the norm, at least completely normal.

Adam Tyson ist in der Generaldirektion für Bildung und Kultur der Europäischen Kommission zurzeit als kommissarischer Direktor für EU-Bildungspolitik, den Bildungsbereich von Erasmus+, Innovation, das Europäische Institut für Innovation und Technologie und die Marie Skłodowska Curie Aktionen tätig.

Yesterday

The history of ERASMUS stretches further back than 30 years. ERASMUS was born: during its first year, just 3,244 students from 11 European countries studied abroad with the programme. By 2014, more than 3 million students had added an international dimension to their studies thanks to the programme.

ERASMUS has equipped young people in Europe with the skills and versatility that are crucial for the modern labour market and for society as a whole. But beside individual benefits, the programme has also triggered significant reforms in the European academic community, encouraging it to modernise and to address issues such as the compatibility of curricula. These reforms contribute to the internationalisation of European higher education.

95 % of ERASMUS students consider that they improved their knowledge of the host country‘s culture and society by going abroad and 83 % say that their sense of European citizenship and perspective was increased.

Today

Building on the success of ERASMUS, the Erasmus+ programme was launched in 2014, bringing together seven existing EU programmes in the fields of education, training, youth and sport. The programme budget reflects clearly that the EU recognises the value of education and skills development when it comes to combatting youth unemployment and promoting European values.

Because more than half of ERASMUS students report that the course catalogue for their host university was not available when they had to finalise their learning agreements or did not receive any information before their exchange on how their grades will be transferred afterwards, we have developed, in cooperation with National Agencies and higher education institutions, a new kind of support: a voluntary, webbased self-assessment tool called ‘ECHE – Make it work for you!. With this tool, which will be available later this year, institutions will be able to assess their performance and make improvements where needed, based on case studies from their peers.

Mobility opportunities

Another significant objective of Erasmus+ in the field of higher education is to make mobility opportunities more accessible. So Erasmus+ brings down financial barriers by providing additional funding to socio-economically disadvantaged students, students from geographically remote areas and those who have special needs.

To improve language skills there is the Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support (OLS) system, offering linguistic support in a flexible and easy way.

Erasmus+ now offers mobility opportunities worldwide. Based on the model of the intra-European mobility, European higher education institutions can exchange students and staff with institutions around the world with the objective of creating better partnerships between the EU and education systems outside of Europe.

Tomorrow

Erasmus+ has been designed to help higher education institutions to adapt to that changing environment. Another focal point of Erasmus+ is in the area of technology. Digital technologies have transformed our daily lives. It is crucial that education adapts to this reality by fully harnessing the potential of information and communication.

A mid-term evaluation on the programme has been launched, with the results expected at the end of 2017. This review exercise will evaluate whether Erasmus+ has addressed real-world needs in an efficient and effective manner.

What we must do, above all, is ensure that the policy context of Erasmus+ and its potential successor programme beyond 2020 remains relevant to the needs of Europe and its citizens. Erasmus+ has had a significant role to play with the extension of Online Linguistic Support to include 100,000 refugees and a stronger focus on social inclusion in Strategic Partnerships.

Den vollständigen Artikel von Adam Tyson über ERASMUS – yesterday, today and tomorrow finden Sie in der Jubiläumsbroschüre, die ab Ende Februar 2017 erhältlich ist.