Exchange programme for all of Europe – Erasmus turns 30

25.01.2017 - Article

From student exchanges to the Lifelong Learning Programme: the Erasmus Programme is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2017.

Ten million people experiencing foreign countries

A popular programme – millions of young people have taken part in Erasmus.
A popular programme – millions of young people have taken part in Erasmus.© dpa/picture-alliance

A semester in Italy, an internship in Poland, a volunteering project in Lithuania – by the end of 2017, almost ten million people will have been abroad with the European education and exchange programme Erasmus+, around 1.2 million of them from Germany. All 28 EU member states are involved in the Erasmus Programme, as are Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Turkey.

The Erasmus Programme was established in 1987 and quickly grew into the largest programme funding periods of study at foreign universities. The name officially stands for European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. Primarily, however, it commemorates Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Dutch Renaissance humanist who lived in a great variety of places across Europe and travelled the continent widely.

Programme with a broad portfolio

The Erasmus Student Charter
The Erasmus Student Charter© dpa/picture-alliance

Erasmus stands for the internationalist European ideal more than any other programme. It has enabled millions of young people not only to study together but also to live, party, fall in love and debate ideas with one another. This has eroded prejudices and helped advance the idea of a shared Europe. The programme is extremely popular. Even in its very first year, 1987, it helped 3,244 students from 11 different countries spend time studying abroad. By 2013/2014, the numbers were at more than 272,000.

The portfolio has been broadened since its inception. Nowadays, funding goes not only on periods of study abroad but also internships, volunteering, stints abroad in connection with school or lifelong learning, traineeship programmes, teaching opportunities and further training for university staff. The Erasmus Programme was merged with other funding programmes to form Erasmus+ in 2014. A budget of 14.7 billion euros is available for the various programmes between 2014 and 2020.

Anniversary events

A major anniversary celebration was held in Berlin on 24 January. A number of conferences, forums, dialogues, debates and exhibitions will be held across Europe throughout the year to mark the Erasmus anniversary.

Related content


Top of page