This year, the European Union exchange programme Erasmus+ is celebrating its 35th birthday. Three student associations under ESN Brno United took part in the Europe-wide celebrations by organizing a flag parade through Brno and the Erasmus Festival at the Faculty of Arts.
Colourful flags, music, and a mix of different languages. On Saturday afternoon, Brno’s centre came alive as about 300 mostly international students paraded through the city, waving flags, dancing, singing, and even doing the Mexican wave. They were celebrating the 35th birthday of the Erasmus+ programme, through which students from 27 EU countries can study anywhere in Europe.
The flag parade started at 3:00 p.m. from the Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk statue in front of the Masaryk University building on Komenské náměstí, proceeding to náměstí Svodoby and Jakubské náměstí, before ending at the Faculty of Arts, where from 4:30 p.m. until late in the evening the Erasmus Festival was held. It was organized by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) student associations from Masaryk University, Brno University of Technology, and Mendel University.
“The vast majority of international students studying in Brno are here thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, so we decided to organise the 35th anniversary in a big way. Throughout the day we were accompanied by three bands on the big stage and DJs of different genres on the small stage. There were also student associations performing and various games being played. We are very happy that the event was successful, that so many people came and that we could spread awareness about international communities at Brno universities. It was our first event of this kind and I strongly believe that it can become a tradition and that we will spread the Erasmus spirit every year,“ said Marijana Brajdić, president of the ESN at Masaryk University.
Erasmus+ is celebrating nearly 25 years at MU
Masaryk University has been participating in the Erasmus+ programme since the 1998/1999 academic year, that is, for almost 25 years. In that first year, 102 MU students went abroad and 17 came to Brno to study.
Today’s figures are significantly higher; nearly 75 percent of exchanges at MU take place through Erasmus+. Every year, about 2,000 MU students go abroad to study or do an internship through this programme, and about 1,000 come to MU. In total, 14,000 MU students have gone abroad, and 8,000 international students have come to MU thanks to Erasmus.
Students’ most frequent destinations are Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Austria, Portugal, and Norway. International students coming to study at MU are most often from Spain, Poland, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey. Thanks to Erasmus+ ICM it is also possible to go to universities outside of Europe, such those in Armenia, Israel, Canada, the Philippines, and Fiji.
The Erasmus+ programme is the showcase of the European Union, and its existence has opened up enormous opportunities to European universities not only in the field of international education. More than 12 million Europeans have taken part in the programme, and the EU expects another 10 million people to study through Erasmus by the end of 2027.
“The Erasmus Programme has changed our university beyond recognition –– courses are commonly taught in English, Brno and MU are more international thanks to the influx of students, and our students, thanks to Erasmus, gain international experience, which will benefit them for the rest of their lives,” said Violeta Osouchová, director of the MU Centre for International Cooperation, which manages mobility through the Erasmus+ Programme at the central university level.
According to her, going abroad is an important life experience that helps students become more independent and learn how to handle new situations. It also gives them the opportunity to improve foreign language skills, learn how their subjects are taught elsewhere in the world, make international contacts in their fields, and make friends from all over the world. Moreover, international experience develops skills and abilities that are sought after by employers now more than ever, so it makes for a great addition to students’ CVs.
Last year, a new programming period for the Erasmus+ Programme began. It has introduced many changes, for example, a doubled budget and new priorities, such as inclusion, fighting climate change, civic engagement, and the digitalization of Erasmus. Masaryk University is at the forefront in Europe in the last priority area. It has already digitized many of the processes related to the programme, saving half a tonne of paper every year and shortening the time students spend on paperwork to one week.