What do people get out of Erasmus? The Erasmus programme is consistently mentioned in Eurobarometer polls as one of the most positive things about the EU, so clearly Europeans hold it dear. But what sort of benefits does it offer? Do Erasmus students have a better chance of finding employment afterwards? Does it help make them feel a greater sense of European identity, as they travel and interact with other cultures across the EU? Or is it just an excuse to party?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Danuta, who thinks Erasmus helps young people to find jobs and gives them the possibility to experience one of the most important adventures one might have – studying abroad. But can we actually measure the impact of Erasmus? Is there any hard evidence of the impact of Erasmus, or is it all anecdotal?
To get a response, we put Danuta’s comment to Tijana Stojanović, Vice-President of the Erasmus Student Network. How would she respond?
For a different perspective, we also put Danuta’s comment to Frédérique Chabaud, Political Advisor for Culture & Education for the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. What would she say?
No, there is evidence as well. Not only in terms of the number of people, but also the fact that everyone is supposed to continue to finish his or her degree. We know, for example, that one of the most important things is certainly the acquiring of ‘soft skills’ promoted through the mobility of the students. And there are a lot of anecdotes, of course, but it’s a good way to acquire language skills and the possibility to communicate with many other people.
[Erasmus is] quite common for Higher Education, and now we’re trying to do exactly the same for apprenticeships. We want it to become more and more important for apprenticeships, and schools, to have this kind of mobility… There are a lot of statistics proving that doing Erasmus is something that everyone should do if the possibility is given to her or him.
Next up, we had a comment sent in from Ankit saying: “I have spoken to some of my friends and to me it looks like, for them, Erasmus is mostly about partying in another country; a kind of paid vacation. They do not say anything about being more ‘European'”.
Is Ankit right? How would Tijana Stojanović from the Erasmus Student Network respond?
If you want to learn more about the Erasmus experience, you might be interested in the upcoming documentary film “Citizen Europe“. The Greek-French-Irish-Bulgarian production is a “a cinematic journey across Europe through the experience of five young participants of Erasmus” against the backdrop of the European crisis. The documentary includes contributions from British historian Timothy Garton Ash, Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, Croatian philosopher and activist Srećko Horvat and German economist Monika Queisser.
Citizen Europe will be broadcast on Arte on 14th May, as well as being screened in more than 20 locations across Europe on 21st May, and is due to be released online as well. You can find more information on their official Facebook page (also, be sure to check out the trailer below).
Finally, earlier this year we asked you if you thought Erasmus should be compulsory for all European citizens. Our suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, but we did note that compulsory military service is considered a respectable policy by many, whereas requiring people to travel and experience life abroad is beyond the pale. We’ve put up a poll below on this topic, so let us know what you think!
What did you get out of your Erasmus experience? Do Erasmus students have a better chance of finding employment afterwards? Or is it just an excuse to party? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!