What is Erasmus


The project, founded in June 1987, takes its name from Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, better known as Erasmus from Rotterdam. Erasmus is also the acronym for the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.

Erasmus of Rotterdam, a theologian and humanist born in the Netherlands in 1467, is remembered in history books for his insatiable thirst for knowledge, which drove him to travel and explore Europe. His aim was to deepen his understanding of the diverse cultures that populated the commercial and migratory landscape of the Old Continent.

Inspired by the life of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the "Lifelong Learning" project was conceived in 1987, later becoming Erasmus. Its objective was to provide students with the opportunity to feel like citizens of the world by traveling, studying, learning, and having fun simultaneously. This allowed them to better understand the culture of the host country for a period ranging from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 12 months.



Over the years, the Erasmus program has expanded its educational pathways, evolving from its initial focus on higher education to its current aim of cultural, sporting, and community-based development, primarily customized for university students.

Originally conceived as an independent initiative for European cooperation and international mobility, Erasmus took shape through two distinct programs in 1987 and 1994.

On May 14, 1987, in Brussels, during a session of the Council of Ministers, a resolution was passed conceiving the birth of a study abroad program. It was June 15, 1987, when it was officially ratified, and the European Union launched the student mobility program, granting university students funding to study in another European country for up to 12 months.

The inaugural Erasmus program involved 3,244 university students from 11 different countries. Its success stemmed from various factors, leading to the expansion of its educational offerings and the widening participation of countries. From the original 11 states in the first year, the program expanded to include 33 participants, including 28 EU members and 5 non-EU nations. This number rises to around a hundred when considering other countries involved in various phases of the program.

In 1987, the pioneering countries for exchanges were Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, with Luxembourg joining in 1988. The enlargement process resumed in 1992 with Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

In 1994, Liechtenstein joined, followed four years later, in 1998, by expansion to the east with Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia joined in 1999, and Malta followed in 2000.

Subsequent admissions, spread over time, included Turkey (2004) and Croatia (2009). In 2014, with the launch of Erasmus+, North Macedonia and several other countries from around the world were admitted.

Today, one of the program's intervention frameworks, aimed at supporting member states' efforts to integrate refugees into European education and training systems, extends free participation in Erasmus+ to approximately 100,000 refugees under the 2016, 2017, and 2018 calls for proposals. Within this framework, some program actions are open to countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.


What is Erasmus+ today

The difference between Erasmus and Erasmus+ lies in an expansion of opportunities in cultural, sporting, and professional fields.

Erasmus solely focused on scholastic training through the aid of the "Socrates" (1995-2006) and "Lifelong Learning" programs. However, in 2014, the European Union established a comprehensive single program for education, youth training, cultural, and sports domains, named Erasmus+.

Erasmus+ emerged on January 1, 2014, integrating seven previous programs: Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, and Grundtvig), Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink, and ICI.

The "Socrates" program (terminated in 2006) was a European Commission proposal in the educational field. Its objectives, from which Erasmus+ drew inspiration, aimed to strengthen the European dimension at all levels, facilitate broad international access to educational resources in Europe, promote equal opportunities in all education sectors, improve both quantitatively and qualitatively the knowledge of EU languages, promote cooperation and mobility, stimulate exchanges between educational institutions, encourage open and distance learning, enhance diploma recognition systems and study periods, increase information exchange, and contribute to removing existing obstacles.

The Leonardo da Vinci project allowed anyone, including those not enrolled in university courses, to receive financial support for work experience in European foreign companies.

Comenius school projects aimed at fostering collaboration and exchange between schools from different European nations, providing students and teachers from various countries the opportunity to work together on one or more topics of common interest.

The Grundtvig program targeted individuals, institutions, and organizations operating in adult education within the European Union. Alongside the Comenius project, the Erasmus project, and the Leonardo Da Vinci program, it formed part of the Lifelong Learning Program (LLP). The name pays homage to Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783 – 1872), a Danish writer, and pedagogue.

The Youth chapter can be a specific support for the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities compared to others. Internationally, a mobility experience can significantly change a young person's life.

Erasmus Mundus is a mobility project for studies co-financed by the Erasmus+ program, allowing those with a bachelor's degree to access the second cycle of study - master's degree or first-level master - in an international consortium of foreign universities.

The TEMPUS project funds the modernization of universities in partner countries and contributes to the creation of a cooperation area in higher education between the European Union and neighboring Partner Countries. In particular, the program promotes voluntary convergence towards European policy developments in the university sector, as outlined by the Lisbon Agenda and the Bologna Process.

The A.L.F.A. Project (Language Learning and Training on Arrival) is a training project born from the common effort of ENAIP - National ACLI Institute of Professional Education, Social Enterprise, and AMESCI - National Association of Social Promotion.

The project was created to support young people from various European countries in carrying out voluntary activities in Italy, as part of the European Voluntary Service of Erasmus+.

The EDULINK program aims to strengthen cooperation in higher education between the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) States and the European Union to improve the effectiveness, management, visibility, and thus the impact of ACP-EU cooperation in higher education.

Lastly, Inclusive Comprehensive Internationalisation (ICI) is a Cooperative Relations project co-funded by Erasmus+. Apart from the Socrates program, these acronyms are operational, and together, they have given rise to the Erasmus+ program.

For the years 2021-2027, the program's priorities include social inclusion, green and digital transition, youth participation in democratic life, digital education in Europe, and the development of long-term skills. Additionally, the program supports the European Pillar of Social Rights, implements the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, and develops the European dimension in sports.

We are currently in the second funding cycle for Erasmus+, the first running from 2014 to 2020 and the second from 2021 to 2027.


Erasmus+ Individual mobility for study purposes

The Erasmus+ program is the new European program that promotes "Individual mobility for learning" (Key Action 1).
Erasmus+ offers students the opportunity to study and/or receive training at a European University participating in the Program, for up to 12 months within each study cycle (Bachelor's, Master's and PhD/specialization schools). The experience can be achieved regardless of the type of mobility (study or internship) and the number of mobility periods (for example, 2 periods of 6 months or 3 periods of 4 months) without additional registration costs, obtaining recognition of the training activity carried out.
The specific details on the requirements to benefit from an Erasmus+ study mobility will be indicated in the announcement which, for the communication area of the Faculty of Political Science, Sociology, Communication, the Coris Department usually publishes around the end of January of each academic year.

The general requirements are:

  • to be enrolled at Sapienza, including the entire Erasmus study period, with tuition fees paid up to date;
  • to be enrolled in degree or doctorate courses provided by the CoRiS Department;
  • to have knowledge of the foreign language in which the courses will be held, corresponding to the level required by the host institution.
  • Other specific requirements are set out in the selection process rules.

On the page Partner universities, you will find a list of European universities that participate in the Erasmus + programme.


Erasmus+ Individual mobility for traineeship purposes

With the new Erasmus+ program, it is possible to apply as undergraduates and then carry out the internship experience within one year of graduation (to be calculated over the total 12 months of the cycle). Students interested in the latter opportunity will have to participate in the future Erasmus+ call for traineeships which will be published on the Sapienza International Area page.


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