The Erasmus Progremme, stablished in 1987, is an administrative plan which supports, facilitates and promotes the academic mobility of university students and professors within the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Turkey. The programme seeks to standardize academic experiences and grades around Europe, in order to achieve true unification of the countries involved in it.
It is considered as one of the biggest achievements of the European Community, along with the Euro and the Schengen Agreement, in the long journey for the unification of Europe. The fact that students and professors can live and study in a different country, and their achievements and grades will be acknowledged in any country of the EU, is quite a feat. It became the largest organized exchange programme in Europe, moving more than 150.000 students a year.
Europa is changing the way we perceive politics and countries. For example, countries in the Schengen Area abolished any type of border control, making them. In fact, they act as a single country for travel purposes. This means a person can live in a country, and work in other without problems. However, unification comes with new challenges and problems to face.
The need to transcend borders and countries is not only a political issue, but also a social one. People need to understand that there are more things in common than separating us. This is the true meaning of the European Union, and this is where the Erasmus Programme excels.
What does Erasmus Programme do for European unification?
For most people, the Erasmus Programme is their first time in a foreign country. This cultural phenomenon has become extremely popular among young students seeking to expand their lives in an interesting, memorable way. It is both a time to learn and socialize in a new place, with new people.
The programme promotes social understanding and sense of community among students of different countries, making it an important step for the acknowledge of the European Union as a single block.
In this aspect, students do not only pursue academic achievement, but also contribute to build the much needed pan-European identity in order to secure the future of the European Union. For many academics, Erasmus is a major change to the way the young people perceive Europe. British students, for example, will learn they have things in common with continental Europeans.
Young students participating in the programme will one day become professionals and leaders with a new, global look to the problems of Europe, since they have experienced firsthand the different cultures and realities of the Union. The Erasmus initiative means the building of careers based on European self-identity rather than nationalism.
The idea is beyond revolutionary, and is changing the education system around the world in just 30 years since its creation. Are we witnessing the first steps into a global unification? Maybe. The tools are there (internet, for example), all we need is the will to expand ourselves and reach for others. Europa is definitely leading the way, and has become an example for the rest of the world.