35 years of “Europe’s soul” Erasmus+

European Commission leaders thanked Erasmus+ for its continuous efforts in promoting global student movement as the program celebrated its 35th anniversary with an event in Brussels on September 20.

On a panel talking about the turning point, European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas and commissioner for education for development, research, culture and education Mariya Gabriel discussed how Erasmus+ had ended up being an important part of the continent’s educational ecosystem.

“If the Euro is Europe’s wallet, Schengen is Europe’s passport, then Erasmus is Europe’s soul,” Schinas said during the panel.

“I believe at the start of this process that no one was expecting it to be the soul of Europe. No-one would have anticipated the tsunami of mobility, the feelings, the understanding this entailed through 35 years,” he continued.

Schinas then asked the 35 alumni of Erasmus+, who were welcomed to sign up with the event to offer views on their experiences, what they would like the organisation to improve going into the next 35 years.

One alumna, Eleni Theodorou, stated she would like the arrangement of access to info for trainees with disabilities.

“It’s essential that everyone knows it’s possible to be a European with a special needs and relocate to another country which there are the resources and technology for everything you require to prosper– notify the universities, notify the companies … engage them,” Theodorou stated.

“I have no doubt at the start of this procedure that no-one was anticipating it to be the soul of Europe”

Markus Kraushoffer, a teacher whose trainees typically sign up with Erasmus+ programs, suggested that extra money for organizers was needed. He informed the panel that he invests all his free time ensuring students have whatever they need.

“Of course I love the sparkle in my students’ eyes when they go abroad and how they ‘have a lot of friends now’ in Europe, and that’s why I do what I do, however [cash for coordinators] is one thing I would suggest the EU to alter,” he said.

Hywel Ceri Jones, a substantial member of Erasmus’ founding group as head of the Commission’s first department for education and youth policies in 1973, also required time to speak of how moved he was to be taking part in such an event.

“In 1973, when we created the first Education department in the Commission, there was tabula rasa– there was 0.5% trainee movement, and some nations were doing nothing at all.

“I recall with pride on the two political breakthroughs we made: in 1976, we introduced the EU’s very first education action program, and one short article because included the seed of the Erasmus program,” he told delegates.

“And then, in 1987, we had the official launch of the Erasmus program itself. It took a 10-year period of experimental development with big participation by universities and students to argue the case for the main Erasmus. That preparatory work ought to not be undervalued,” he included.

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