MY ERASMUS…

Erasmus students in Poland. Photo Erasmus Network

When the government’s plans to cease the UK’s involvement with Erasmus+ attracted immediate criticism, a number of Conservative MPs began attacking the current scheme and claiming that its replacement (Turing) would be far better.

One of these was David Johnston, the Wantage MP, who claimed in his Spectator article that Erasmus+ was only beneficial for better-off students and so worked against the interests of those from lower-income families.

Dr Alice Prochaska, the former Principal of Somerville College, penned a response to refute this claim (here), highlighting in the process a number of cases to show why this wasn’t so.

Since then, many people have contacted us and it is clear that, in contrast to the MPs’ assertions, students from all levels of income have taken advantage of Erasmus.

However, the MPs were right in one way – all those who wrote felt they were better-off for having been allowed the chance to enjoy the benefits Erasmus brought.

That got us to think whether we could help those politicians who want to see the end of Erasmus, by having people tell us how it affected (and hopefully helped) their lives.

So, if you have taken part during the last 33 years, drop us a note of your experiences in the comments section below. It doesn’t have to be long – just a few sentences outlining what you did, how you benefited and maybe what impact it had on your future.

Please spread the word. Have any of your relatives taken part? If you are a teacher, maybe you had pupils who did. Even if you have no direct experience yourself, you can post a link to this page on your favourite social media site using the hashtag #myerasmus.

We look forward to hearing from you.

6 thoughts on “MY ERASMUS…

  1. I was an Erasmus student in the University of Leicester in 1994-95. Without Erasmus I wouldn’t have had means to study abroad. The opportunity to study in Leicester was a great experience and it changed my life, positively. Erasmus year in the UK was extremely inpiring. I dare to say that without this opportunity to study in Leicester with support of Erasmus my life would have been different and I wouldn’t have achieved things what I have achieved later in my life. Jyrki Katainen, Honorary Doctor of the University of Leicester, President of Sitra, former Vice-President of the EU Commission, former Prime Minister of Finland.

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    1. Dear Mr Katainen,

      Greetings to a fellow holder of a Leicester doctorate! Your Erasmus year coincided with my final year of research in the School of History. We probably passed on the stairs of the Attenborough Tower!

      As Erasmus opened doors in your life, European cooperation has enriched mine. I had the honour of welcoming Prof. Jukka Korpela of Joensuu University to a pan-European team of medievalists resulting in ground-breaking research and publication. In my political life, as a member of the UK delegation to the congress of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe I had the privilege of visiting Helsinki for the first time in 2010. And I can’t help adding that my first date with my wife was a performance of Sibelius’ fifth symphony.

      Let’s hope the UK and Finland will keep open the warm relationship, academic and personal, that European cooperation has made possible.

      Graham Jones, Chair, European Movement UK, Oxford Region

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  2. I was a participant on the Erasmus Scheme around 1995 for a year in Regensburg, Germany. It fundamentally changed me as person. It gave me so much confidence in myself, my abilities and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. I arrived in Regensburg lacking confidence and self esteem and left with bags of self worth and not afraid to show the world a bit more of who I am. Without the ERASMUS year I would never have had the confidence to stand in front of a class and teach. Without the ERASMUS year, I wouldn’t have considered applying to the JET Scheme and living in Japan for 2 years. It has enriched my life in so many ways, it is something which every student should have the opportunity to do as the effects of it are so far reaching. The friends I made and the experiences gained will stay with me forever.

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  3. I thought that the Erasmus scheme – does it not predate Britain’s full membership of the EC?- was thoroughly enlightened and was certainly of benefit to the British university system. Though not an Erasmus student myself, my research in Italy was greatly facilitated by our membership of the EC. Is the UK still supporting the European University Institute in Florence?

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  4. I spent some time teaching on the Erasmus programme in another European country. I felt this was constructive for my own career and helpful to the student from my university who were studying there for a time. I was coincidentally also able to meet again after many years students from that country whom I had taught at a summer school years before. Educational exchanges between countries are always beneficial both to students and teachers. Why consider scrapping something so good?

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  5. Gareth Todd Jones
    Can I say something about the work that we did in Comenius. The idea that by implication this Initiative was for children of wealthier families is complete nonsense. The Primary schools where I was Headteacher were both situated in one of the most deprived areas of the country, Over a period of 15 years we linked with schools in Denmark, Estonia, Sicily and Hungary. We established an annual exchange of pupils with Givskud in Denmark and even exchanged children with Biancavilla in Sicily. Our children were 10 and 11. The positive benefits of these links are truly incalculable. Suffice to say that they left an indelible mark on the children and community that continues reverberate.

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