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Erasmus exchange scheme sends 3 million European students abroad

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(BRUSSELS) - More than three million European students and teachers have travelled to 33 countries on the continent in the last quarter century to study, work or teach under the Erasmus exchange programme, the European Commission said Monday.

In 2011-2012, the last academic year for data, more than 250,000 students took part in the scheme, a record number since the 1987 launch of Erasmus, with Spain, France and Germany the most popular destinations.

Spain also sent the largest number of students abroad in 2011-2012, followed by Germany and France, the Commission said.

Erasmus involves the 28 European Union states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

"Erasmus is more important than ever in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment," said Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

"The skills and international experience gained by Erasmus students make them more employable and more likely to be mobile on the labour market."

The next 2014-2020 EU budget provides for more than four million young people to study, train, teach or volunteer abroad over the period.

Job placements in companies were increasingly popular, with one in five Erasmus students, almost 50,000 in total, choosing this option in 2011-2012.

Demand continued to exceed availability of Erasmus grants in most countries, the Commission said. The average monthly grant, designed to cover part of the additional costs of living abroad and travel, was 252 euros ($324), the same sum as over the past three years. It is topped up in some countries.

The EU targets 20 percent student mobility by the end of the decade against around 10 percent currently --- of which around 4.5 percent receive an Erasmus grant.

Number of Erasmus students tops 
3 million - Erasmus 2011-12

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