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20th Aug 2022

Erasmus students find love and jobs, EU research finds

  • Vassiliou - Better job prospects and 1 million 'Erasmus babies' from the EU's student exchange programme (Photo: European Commission)

If you are looking for love and a good job then you need to use the Erasmus student exchange programme, according to new research published by the European Commission.

One in four Erasmus students hooked up with their life partner during their studies abroad, says the Erasmus Impact Study, which was based on responses from nearly 80,000 respondents including students, teachers and businesses.

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The EU executive "estimates that around 1 million babies are likely to have been born to Erasmus couples since 1987".

Named after the Dutch renaissance philosopher Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, Erasmus has become one of the EU's most well-known and popular policies since its launch in 1987.

In the 2012/13 academic year, the programme funded the studies of nearly 270,000 students, roughly 2 percent of Europe's total student population.

Three million people have benefitted from the programme since 1987.

The programme covers the 28 European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

But at a time when Europe's youth unemployment rate is more than one in five, while Spain and Greece have jobless rates of over 50 percent among 16-25 year olds, Brussels is keen to extol the practical virtues of Erasmus.

The number of firms who considered that having experience of living abroad was important for employability has nearly doubled between 2006 and 2013, from 37 percent to 64 percent, the study reports.

Meanwhile, Erasmus students are also half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those not going abroad.

Even five years after graduation, the unemployment rate of mobile students was 23 percent lower than for non-mobile students.

Forty percent of students who studied abroad had also worked in more than one country, compared to a 23 percent rate among students who did not travel.

"The message is clear: if you study or train abroad, you are more likely to increase your job prospects," EU education commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said.

Finnish commissioner Jyrki Katainen, Sweden's Cecilia Malmstrom, and Italy’s Federica Mogherini, the incoming EU foreign policy chief, are set to be the Erasmus alumni in the next Commission.

Alumni also include Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Xavier Bettel, the prime ministers of Denmark and Luxembourg respectively.

Armed with a beefed up budget worth around €15 billion, the new "Erasmus+" programme will offer EU grants to nearly 4 million people between 2014 and 2020.

However, student groups warn that unless Erasmus increases funding and widens access to students from poorer backgrounds, the programme could become a preserve of a small elite.

"Lots of students don't apply for funding because they don't think they can cover their expenses," Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares, vice-chair of the European Students Union, told EUobserver.

Without extra funding it "could become a programme just for an elite", he says, adding that 'mobile' students who study abroad tend to come from backgrounds where their parents did the same or encouraged their studies.

"If the EU wants to reach the target of 20 percent of students being mobile by 2020 we need to keep working on increasing accessibility, and maintaining the quality of the programme,"

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