Record number of Irish students studying abroad

The Erasmus programme is now 30 years old

Record number of Irish students studying abroad

Image via @EUErasmusPlus on Twitter

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the European Union student exchange programme, known as Erasmus.

It allows students from one country to study in another with the assistance of a financial grant.

A new programme, called Erasmus+, also allows apprentices to undertake fully-funded job placements elsewhere in the EU.

Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) was built on pilot student exchanges from 1981 to 1986.

It was formally adopted in June 1987.

In the first year, the programme involved 11 countries - Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom - with 3,244 students travelling abroad to study.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) say about 3,200 Irish students now go on Erasmus each year, up from 112 in the first year.

Irish students on Erasmus | Source: HEA

That is a total of more than 52,000 since the programme started in 1987. While some 6,300 Erasmus students come to Ireland every year.

In total, almost two million students across Europe have made use of the programme.

Siobhan Keating heads up the IT course at Templemore College in Tipperary.

She says Erasmus Plus is a great way to learn a skill and see the rest of Europe.

"This year we're sending 35 students abroad on work placement - they're going for three weeks.

"There's a group going to Tenerife in Spain, there's a group going to Leipzig in Germany, and there's also a group going to Perpignan in France".

Additional reporting: EC Radio Ireland