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Record numbers take part in Erasmus exchange programme

26 January 2017, 23:05 CET
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Record numbers take part in Erasmus exchange programme

Tibor Navracsics - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - 678,000 Europeans - more than ever before - were able to study, train, work and volunteer abroad with the help of the EU's education and training programme Erasmus+, which has its 30th birthday this year.

In the same year, the EU invested €2.1 billion in over 19,600 projects involving 69,000 organisations. These are the main findings of the Erasmus+ Annual Report for 2015 published by the European Commission today. Results also show that the programme is well on track to meet its target of supporting 4 million people between 2014 and 2020.

"This is the solidarity Europe needs, now more than ever", said the EU's Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics: "Erasmus has been opening up opportunities to young people for three decades now, enabling them to develop vital skills, including social and inter-cultural skills, and promoting active citizenship", he said. "By connecting people and supporting them in working together, the programme plays a key role in empowering our youth to build a better society."

In 2015, Erasmus+ expanded even further by enabling, for the first time, higher education institutions to send and receive more than 28,000 students and staff to and from countries beyond Europe. France, Germany and Spain remain three top sending countries, while Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom receive most of the Erasmus+ participants. Feedback from participants confirms that time spent abroad with Erasmus+ is time well spent: 94% say their skills have improved and 80% feel that it has boosted their career opportunities. One in three students who do traineeships abroad through Erasmus+ is offered a position by their host company.

Today's report also gives an overview of steps taken by the Commission to adapt Erasmus+ to help the EU and Member States tackle societal challenges, such as the integration of refugees and migrants. For instance, the programme's Online Linguistic Support system has been extended to benefit 100,000 refugees over the next three years; €4 million have been made available for this. The aim is to enable especially young people to enter the host countries' education systems and develop their skills.

The publication of the report coincides with the launch of the campaign marking the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme (called Erasmus+ since 2014 because it benefits more people through a wider range of opportunities). Events will take place throughout 2017 at European, national and local levels to highlight the positive impact of Erasmus both on individuals and society as a whole, and to give all those involved the opportunity to debate how the programme should evolve in the future. Over the past 30 years, Erasmus+ and its predecessors have supported not only more than 5 million students, apprentices and volunteers, but also staff and youth exchanges, amounting to 9 million people in total.

30 years of the Erasmus exchange programme - background guide

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