What is Socrates/Erasmus
The SOCRATES II programme supports European
cooperation in eight areas, from school to higher education, from new
technologies to adult learners.
The higher education section of SOCRATES II ("ERASMUS")
continues and extends the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of
University Students (the "ERASMUS programme"), established in 1987. It is named
after the philosopher, theologian and humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1465-1536).
An untiring adversary of dogmatic thought in all fields of human endeavour,
Erasmus lived and worked in several parts of Europe, in quest of the knowledge,
experience and insights which only such contacts with other countries could
Higher education plays a crucial role in
producing high quality human resources, disseminating scientific discovery and
advanced knowledge through teaching, adapting to the constantly emerging needs
for new competences and qualifications, and educating future generations of
citizens in a European context. All such functions are of vital importance to
the long-term development of Europe.
The increasing speed at which existing knowledge becomes
obsolete, and the rapid changes in the means by which it is delivered and
renewed, will require the higher education sector to adopt new methods and
commit itself wholeheartedly to the provision of lifelong learning.
Against this background, ERASMUS contains a wide range of
measures designed to support the European activities of higher education
institutions and to promote the mobility and exchange of their teaching staff
Adopted on 24 January 2000 and spanning the period until the end
of 2006, SOCRATES and its Erasmus action are now open to the participation of 30
countries: the 15 Member States of the European Union; the three EEA countries
(Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and twelve associated countries: Hungary,
Romania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia,
Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus.
As in the past, ERASMUS is open to all types of higher education
institutions (for which the term "universities" is generally used), all academic
disciplines and all levels of higher education study up to and including the
While the promotion of 'physical mobility', mainly of students,
constituted the main thrust of ERASMUS Phase I and II, the higher education
Chapter of SOCRATES seeks to integrate such mobility into a wider framework of
cooperation activities which aim at developing a "European Dimension" within the
entire range of a university's academic programmes. "Bringing students to
Europe, bringing Europe to all students" is the new spirit of ERASMUS: while
student mobility retains a position of central importance within the programme,
stronger incentives are now available to encourage universities to add a
European perspective to the courses followed by students who do not participate
directly in mobility.
More emphasis is consequently placed on teaching staff
exchanges, transnational curriculum development and pan-european thematic
networks. Wider dissemination of and participation in the results of this work
are sought through specific support. ERASMUS also encourages universities to
associate other public and private bodies from their surrounding regions with
their transnational cooperation activities, thereby enhancing opportunities for
inter-regional cooperation between the participating countries.
From 1987/88 to 1999/2000, about 750,000 University students
have spent an Erasmus period abroad and more than 1,800 Universities (or other
Higher Education institutions) are presently participating in the
The EU budget of SOCRATES/Erasmus for 2000-2006 amounts to
around 950 Mio € (of which approximately 750 Mio € for students grants).
Additional funds are provided in each Country by public authorities, by the
universities themselves and by other organisations.