In 2017, we mark the 30th anniversary of Erasmus+. Since its inception, the programme, which initially started out as just Erasmus, for higher education students only, has enabled an estimated nine million people from across Europe — 600,000 from the UK — to go abroad to study, train or volunteer. And to date, UK education, training and youth organisations have been awarded €500 million in Erasmus+ funding from 2014 to 2017.
To celebrate, the National Agency for Erasmus+ in the UK (UK NA) — a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK — created an exhibition ‘Shaping Futures’ to celebrate how Erasmus+ and international cooperation and exchange has benefitted the UK, its young people and education and training staff over the last 30 years. It also aimed to:
- highlight the value of the programme to UK Government during its negotiations to leave the EU
- encourage greater UK participation and applications for this year and next during an era of uncertainty amidst Brexit.
The exhibition launched on 10 October at the British Council’s London headquarters to an audience of almost 100 guests from across the education and learning sectors. This included organisations and participants involved in the programme, some of whom feature in the exhibition. Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at the British Council, hosted the event which included lively speeches from Martine Reichert, Director General for Education and Culture, European Commission, and Peter Drummond from the Department for Education. The evening was rounded off by Sophie Mckeand, Young People’s Laurate, Wales, who read her Erasmus+ poem ‘Sunlight’, commissioned by the UK NA as part of its celebratory activities.
The exhibition itself features a blend of inspiring case studies from people who have taken part in Erasmus+, highlighting the positive effect an international experience has had on their lives and futures, backed up with facts and statistics.
Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for young people who want to study, gain work experience or volunteer abroad. It is also designed to modernise education, training, youth work and sport across Europe via strategic partnerships and by giving staff and professionals opportunities to train or exchange experiences. The current programme runs from 2014-2020 with a €14.7 billion budget across the EU.