Should they go?
It can be an anxious time for parents and guardians when their children are about to leave home, perhaps for the first time, let alone to go abroad. However, encouragement and support for a young person wanting to study, volunteer, work or take part in a youth exchange in Europe will enable them to reap many benefits. The Erasmus+ programme funds a range of opportunities for young people, making it a really positive way to experience life in another country.
Planning ahead helps - we have a list of advice on contingency planning, including a link to the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in the travel and accommodation section.
What is Erasmus+?
Erasmus+ is a European Union (EU) mobility (exchange) programme, known and respected throughout the world. Over three million students and young people in Europe have taken part in the programme since the first Erasmus scheme was set up in 1987. Former participants agree that it was the most rewarding time of their life. Read more in what can I do?
Funding of 14.7 billion euro has been allocated over seven years (2014-2020) for participants to study, work, teach, train or volunteer abroad, mainly in the programme countries of Europe, and sometimes further afield in participating countries. In the UK, Erasmus+ is managed by the UK National Agency, which is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.
Why take part?
- gain maturity, independence and confidence;
- improve academically and grow personally;
- receive financial support;
- improve their CV;
- receive support and guidance from their sending organisation.
Young people taking part in Erasmus+ not only get to experience living abroad and facing all the challenges and fun this can bring, but they return with more confidence and motivation, having acquired many life-skills that will set them apart in the job market. Employers are looking for evidence of communication, team working and problem-solving skills, and Erasmus+ helps develop these competences.
The parent/guardian of someone who is going to study or work abroad through Erasmus+ as part of their degree can read about the benefits highlighted in the European Commission’s survey. The report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England Attainment in higher education of Erasmus and placements students highlights how Erasmus students perform in their degrees and in their future careers.
Who can take part?
Erasmus+ supports higher education students to study abroad for up to one year in another European university, or to undertake work experience in a European organisation. Apprentices and students in further education or vocational education and training (VET) can also benefit from an international experience by taking part in a traineeship abroad or attending a European VET school. Young people can take part in a youth exchange or a volunteering scheme.
Erasmus+ participants normally receive a monthly grant or financial support for subsistence and travel, provided by the EU, through the sending organisation. Erasmus+ higher education grants are paid in addition to the standard grants or loans to which students are entitled. Students who spend a full academic year abroad receive a large contribution towards their UK tuition fees for that year.
How to apply
Applications to take part in Erasmus+ must be made by organisations, not by individuals. For example, in higher education, it is the university or college that applies to take part. If successful, the institution would receive funding and invite their students to apply. This model applies across all sectors, including colleges and youth organisations. Students in higher education must generally apply the year before they wish to go abroad, through their university or college’s international office or Erasmus+ coordinator. Most universities in the UK offer Erasmus+ to their students. The programme supports students from all subject disciplines to take part, not only languages students, although it will depend on the course structure and the arrangements the university has with its partner universities in other countries.
Shivani Raghvani, a pharmacy student at Cardiff University went to Turkey, where she worked in the pharmaceutical chemistry lab at Ankara University:
My parents were panicking more than I was, as I have never gone to a new country by myself before and I am the first of my two siblings to do this. They couldn’t resist coming to visit me, midway through my placement. We made a little family holiday out of this!
Just one month into the programme and my father saw the change in me when he came to visit. He saw that I was more independent, responsible and the first to contribute to any problem that required solving. This was of great importance to me, especially because I am Indian. My father has always been the traditional kind and worries about my safety. However, after seeing how the programme benefited me, he even told my younger sister to apply for an Erasmus programme too!
Read more testimonials like Shivani's on our case studies page.