Erasmus celebrates its 25th anniversary, and it still provides us many reasons why this particular programme is needed in Europe. Within the framework of Erasmus, 2.5 mln European students have gone to study or explore the internships abroad. At the beginning, only 12 countries of the European Economic Community took part in this exchange programme. The situation had changed in 90’s when more states joint to Erasmus and, as the result, the programme’s budget significantly went up from €35 to 150 mln per year. In Poland, Erasmus have functioned since 1998. During this 14 years, 108 041 Polish students and 26 553 academic workers were its beneficiaries. The most popular directions of Polish students are Germany, Spain and France. In the meantime, 36 000 Europeans came to Poland within the framework of Erasmus.
Erasmus aims to support mobility of students and academic workers as well as cooperation between European universities. However, more important is fact that Erasmus upgrades beneficiaries’ language skills, and as a consequence, it contributes to the intercultural dialogue, helps to break stereotypes, understand the culture of host country and socialize. It is said that over these years Erasmus became a kind of brand and created the first generation of young Europeans. Erasmus brings knowledge about the world, but it also gives young people a chance to learn about themselves. Moreover, the history of roommates, who hailed from whole Europe, was a plot of L’Aubarge Espagnole- the movie about the Erasmus students in Barcelona.
Current academic year brought many speculations about the end of Erasmus programme. Chair of the Committee on Budgets of the European Parliament, Mr. Alain Lamassoure said: “We have not foreseen in the 2012 budget enough credit payments … so the cohesion funds are at risk, also the European Social Fund, Erasmus and life-long learning programmes, and even the research and innovation programmes”. After this statement many hectic posts have appeared on the Internet, especially among the ex-Erasmus students or those who are going to take advantage of student exchange programme in this academic year.
Nonetheless, the Commission tried to appease the student and published on its website an announcement titled in very straight way: “Erasmus students: don’t panic!”
The words of Mr. Alain Lamassoure should be interpreted in context of ongoing debate about the budget of EU 2014-2020. So far, Erasmus was a part of Life Long Learning Programme which come to an end in 2013. Therefore, there is general confusion about the future of Erasmus. It is true that there is currently a shortage of funds in the EU budget but Commission’s draft calls for the reform of Erasmus and envisages a new project called ”Erasmus for all”. The budget of this initiative covers the scholarships for 2.2 mln students, to compare with 1.5 mln students in 2007-2013.
Once again, dear students don’t panic, and as Commission suggests, don’t hesitate to apply for an Erasmus exchange – it might just change your life!