The New Erasmus+ Report: Why You Should Study Abroad

What Is Erasmus?

Since its 1987 founding, Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) has offered international exchange and cultural enrichment to two million students from 30 European nations. The Erasmus+ program springboards off of the organization’s popularity to address education, training, youth and sport under one all-encompassing umbrella. Erasmus+ will support more than four million people with study, training, work and volunteer opportunities between the years 2014 and 2020.

Touristic backpack with presents

With a total budget of €14.7 billion, Erasmus+ comes with a 40 percent leap in funding from previous programs, signifying an exponentially increased commitment to investing in international exchange. The new framework not only brings together the many initiatives of Erasmus, but also places a greater focus on participant mobility and educational cooperation both within and outside the EU.

So who is most likely to benefit from Erasmus? The scope is impressive, and includes everyone from college, vocational and volunteer abroad students to teachers, trainers, and youth workers. Thousands of educational institutions will also benefit thanks to funding for everything from strategic partnerships to initiatives designed to boost collaboration, employability, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, 600 transnational sports-related partnerships will also receive funding.

In short, Erasmus+ offers the comprehensive international higher educational community unprecedented access to other cultures and learning environments.

The Benefits of International Exchanges and High Rate of Youth Employment

With youth unemployment rates shockingly high throughout Europe despite a reported two million job vacancies, one of the primary aims of Erasmus+ is to bridge this troubling skills gap and boost employability for recent grads.

There’s good reason to believe this initiative will be successful: extensive research indicates that students who have lived and learned abroad are at significantly lower risk for extended period of unemployment. Not only that, but because cross-cultural experience is so sought after in the workforce, Erasmus alumni can also expect to advance more quickly in their careers.

The European Commission’s recently released a study determining that a mere five years following graduation, ex-international students had a jobless rate nearly 25 percent lower than the peers.

An alternate study by the British Council, market research company Ipsos and management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton reveals that a whopping 90 percent of employers are looking for skills learned in a study abroad programs — including everything from curiosity to confidence to tolerant. In fact, ex-Erasmus participants are 42 percent more likely to have acquired the desired skill set than non-participants.

And then comes the fact that a full third of Erasmus students, who are eligible for internships through the program, receive a job offer following its completion.

Lastly, in a world where entrepreneurship is increasingly prized, international students alumni are recognized for their unique entrepreneurial spirit with more than 75 percent planning to start their own businesses in the future. The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program vigorously supports this goal.

The takeaway from this research is clear: studying abroad doesn’t just increase employment prospects, but it also increases the ability of alumni to make valuable contributions in the workplace and to society at large.

A Lifelong Impact

In addition to providing a rich educational experience and critical cultural exposure which makes them such prime candidates on the job marker, studying aborad also helps grads grow in a holistic way: the impact is pervasive and lasting.

Research suggests that a full 40 percent of Erasmus alums go on to live and work abroad at a later point in their lives. But that’s only a small part of the program’s significance in terms of changing the lives of the students in the program, as well as the world around them.

Students hoping to make a love connection might do best to opt out of the dating websites and crowded bar scene and instead head overseas: research from the European Commission shows that more than 25 percent of Erasmus participants first meet their partner while studying abroad, and a full third of these choose partners of differing nationalities. The happy result? The existence of more than one million Erasmus babies….and the next generation of Erasmus students, of course.

While these precise numbers may be news, the phenomenon itself is not: in 2011, Italian novelist Umberto Eco described Erasmus as yielding the “first generation of young Europeans” due to the multitude of romances springing forth from the program.

For almost 30 years, Erasmus has drawn together students from all over the world to form one vibrant community. The 21st century landscape calls for a global viewpoint, and exchange programs as well as international university partnerships promote essential international understanding. Erasmus+ promises to build on the organization’s profound legacy by offering future generations the same opportunities and more.