Erasmus: European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of Academics
For over 25 years, the Erasmus programme has been promoting exchange visits by students to European host universities. The sub-programme Erasmus Mundus also facilitates visits by academics from non-European countries.
Antwerp Maritime Academy in Belgium, the American College in the Cypriot capital Nicosia and Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn, Germany - these higher education institutions, promising in more than just name and location, are just three examples of universities in over 30 European countries where students are being supported through Erasmus. This European Union exchange programme has been running since 1987, originally set up to promote cooperation between universities in Europe and to encourage mobility among students and lecturers.
Lifelong learning in the European Union
Since 2007, Erasmus has been part of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme, extending its funding provision to a number of additional areas such as student internships and training for university and company staff. The great success of the exchange programme is reflected in the following figures: almost three million students and over 300,000 lecturers and university staff had participated in Erasmus by the time of its 25th anniversary in 2012. Over 4,000 higher education institutions in 33 countries have taken part in Erasmus so far, and more are joining all the time.
The Erasmus programme is open to all university students.
In addition to receiving financial support, students on Erasmus exchange scholarships enjoy the key benefit of having the credits they earn at their host university recognised as part of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). As a result, the Erasmus programme allows them to further their academic career at their home university whilst broadening their horizons and improving their language skills. Erasmus is open to applicants in their second year or subsequent years of study on a standard degree programme at a higher education institution working with the Erasmus Programme. Study exchanges last from three to twelve months and students can apply for an Erasmus grant to cover travel and accommodation costs.
Video: 'One year abroad' won first place in Erasmus short film competition, 2011
Erasmus Mundus: the exchange programme for academics
The programme is named after the polymath Erasmus of Rotterdam, who lived in the 15th Century, but Erasmus also serves as an acronym for the cumbersomely-titled EuRopean (Community) Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. The term 'mobility' is at the heart of the programme, as European partner universities promote exchange visits between their students.
The sub-programme Erasmus Mundus (running for five years from 2009 to 2013), while also seeking to promote cooperation and mobility, is specifically designed to develop joint Master's and PhD programmes between partner universities.
Earning a PhD with Erasmus Mundus
This funding programme is aimed at PhD students, post-doctoral students and senior researchers wishing to broaden their horizons beyond their own institutions. Unlike the Erasmus Programme, Erasmus Mundus also accepts applications from candidates from non-European countries. The application criteria vary according to the research project or programme of the partner institution in question.
There are two special types of funding available: Erasmus Mundus Action 1 provides funding for international Master's and PhD programmes and scholarships for a period of three years. Erasmus Mundus Action 2 finances mobility networks between universities in European countries and third countries and provides mobility scholarships for periods of between three months and three years.
The only other thing that Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus participants need when taking part in an exchange programme in another European host country is a good travel guide!
Have you spent any time at a host university in Europe as part of Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus or a similar programme? Tell us and others about it in the comments below.