Nearly 270,000 students received EU grants to study or train abroad in 2012-2013, setting a new record, according to new data from the European Commission.
The three most popular destinations for Erasmus students in 2012-2013 were Spain, Germany and France, while the countries that send the highest number of students abroad as a proportion of their graduate population include Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Finland, Latvia and Spain.
While most students go abroad to study at another university, one in five (55,000) were placed in private companies.
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said that the Erasmus programme helps students to boost their employability and career prospects but also contributes to a “sense of belonging to the European family”.
The statistics also reveal on average grants increased 9% in one year to €272 from €250 which comes on top of grants from national, regional or institutional funds.
The new Erasmus+ programme, adopted at the end of the year 2013, will provide grants for four million people, including two million higher education students and 300,000 staff over the next seven years (2014-2020). It will also fund 135,000 student and staff exchanges between Europe and partner countries worldwide.
The Erasmus+ programme has been launched at a time when nearly six million young people are unemployed in the EU – with levels above 50% in Spain and Greece.
At the same time, there are over two million vacancies, and a third of employers report difficulties in recruiting staff with the skills they need, illustrating a significant skills gap in Europe.
The Commission expects Erasmus+ to address this by providing opportunities for people to study, train or gain experience abroad.
Yana Toom, Estonian MEP from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and coordinator in the Culture Committee, said:
“Cross-border mobility and experience are essential to the functioning of the European labour market and will ultimately drive economic growth. Especially in times of austerity it is absolutely essential to continue investing ambitiously in human capital and improve the employability of young people. Student mobility is a key contributor to helping students find the most suitable education. Studying abroad can greatly contribute to acquiring additional skills valued by employers such as languages and flexibility."
Erasmus+, the EU's new programme for education, training, youth and sport, was launched in January 2014.
It has a total budget of nearly €15 billion for 2014-2020, a 40% increase compared with the previous period.
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