The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has helped students and staff to discover new lands and new skills through their long and successful participation in the Erasmus+ programme.

In line with Scotland's proud history of exploration, the University of Edinburgh has been a participant in the Erasmus+ programme since its inception in 1987, first in the higher education mobility programme called Erasmus and then in Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees and now in Erasmus+ and International Credit Mobility.  

Broadening horizons

Erasmus+ has helped thousands of students from Edinburgh to step out of their comfort zone and experience their own life-changing adventures in the towns and cities across Europe and beyond. Isabell Majewsky Anderson, Head of Go Abroad Office, Edinburgh Global, explains: “Erasmus+ changes people’s lives. It opens up new learning experiences, provides insight into different cultures, and, most importantly in such turbulent times, nurtures the concept of global citizenship amongst our staff and students.”

Hundreds and thousands

Edinburgh University estimates that they have received around 18 million Euro of funding from Erasmus+ and its predecessor programmes during the 30 years that they have participated. In terms of funding for this type of mobility, they are regularly in the top three UK universities, and at least 7000 of their students and staff have taken part.  A similar number of students and staff from across Europe have come to Edinburgh to study, making it the biggest UK recipient of Erasmus+ students from Europe. Over the past three years alone, they have received around 5 million Euro to fund student and staff mobility through the traditional Erasmus+ programme, supporting over 1600 students on study exchanges and traineeships, and around 120 staff on teaching and training mobility visits.

Beyond Europe

In 2016 they were also awarded almost 1.5 million in funding for Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM), making them the UK’s biggest recipient of this type of funding in that year. This relatively new element of the programme allows them to send students and staff to and from partners outside Europe. They now have an impressive number of more than 500 Erasmus+ exchange links with more than 300 partners in Europe. 19 of these are new ICM partner institutions in 12 non-European countries and they expect to double their 2015/16 participant numbers with them, sending and receiving around 240 incoming and outgoing students and staff.

To boldly go...

Luke Robertson is a former Geophysics and Meteorology student of Edinburgh University. He is an Erasmus alumnus and the youngest British person and the first Scot to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole unaided. Luke said “Absolutely anyone can be an explorer and there really is so much on your doorstep – you don’t have to travel to Antarctica or Alaska to get a dose of adventure; it’s in the hills, the valleys, the rivers and the cities and everywhere in between.”

Erasmus+ alumni from Edinburgh, who have had their own adventures across Europe, agree:

“You undergo tremendous change and upheaval when you relocate abroad.  It’s by no means easy; it's far different from travelling, or going on holiday.  However, after nine months I’d come to love Bologna so much that I didn't want to leave. I’ve learnt an enormous amount about myself since being away, and would recommend a foreign exchange to anyone.” Modern Languages student who studied at the University of Bologna, Italy.

“A year on Erasmus+ is a great thing to have to boost your CV.  If you want to show a clear demonstration of an international mind-set, language ability and independence, you will immediately have one up on similar applicants who stayed at home. I can honestly say that my Erasmus+ placement was the best year of my life and urge people to leap at the opportunity to go themselves.” Chemistry student who studied at the University of Alicante, Spain.

“Although an Erasmus+ cliché, it was the most incredible experience and the best year of my life! Meeting and befriending so many nationalities has helped me to develop a more international and open-minded perspective, and I now see the prospect of working and living in another country as the most exciting adventure I could embark on. My Erasmus+ experience has taught me to be more independent and to rise to all challenges, whether it be finding a flat in an unknown, foreign city, or manoeuvring a sometimes confusing and chaotic university system. As a person who in the past was only too happy to remain languishing in a safe comfort zone, my time on Erasmus+ has engendered in me a sense of adventure and a predisposition to seize every opportunity.” Modern Languages student who studied at the University of Granada, Spain.

“Whilst you will undoubtedly have a huge amount of fun, you will also be enhancing your academic profile; what stands out in a competitive job market is this kind of international experience. My time studying at the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) helped me to receive a PhD fellowship to continue my research at the National University of Singapore and given me many more travelling opportunities!” Pharmacology student who studied at Leiden University in The Netherlands.

“I spent my third year of university studying at the University of Bologna. As a history student, I was required to take history courses in Italy which were all taught in Italian. It was certainly interesting studying African history from an Italian paradigm. You quickly realise that the system values different characteristics and you are surrounded by incredibly engaged, intelligent and politicised Italians. Even the oral exam system nurtures those who have a voice and want to express it.” History student who studied at the University of Bologna, Italy.

Isabell concludes:

Having had an Erasmus+ experience myself, even decades on, I look back and recognise how it helped shape my future career. We are proud to be celebrating 30 years of Erasmus+.

 Read other inspiring stories from participants and organisations celebrating 30 years of Erasmus+.