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Celebrating 30 years of Erasmus+ 1987–2017

Shaping futures

First published by the British Council and Ecorys UK Ltd in September 2017 as part of the Erasmus+ Shaping Futures exhibition. British Council 10 Spring Gardens St. James’s London SW1A 2BN ŠAll rights reserved by British Council and Ecorys UK Ltd. Art Direction: B&W Studio, Leeds Writers: Cat Arundel Faye Hindle-Lewis Paper: G F Smith Colorplan bright red 175gsm Zen 250gsm Printing: Team Impression, Leeds B2 HP Indigo press Binding: Gareth at Spink & Thackray Ltd, Leeds Portrait photography: Mat Wright, Manchester

Providing opportunities Shaping futures

The 30th anniversary of Erasmus+ is a great occasion to celebrate the UK’s contribution to the success of the programme and to share the stories of those whose lives have been changed as a result. 600,000 people from the UK have taken part in the programme over 30 years, and ₏1bn has been allocated to the UK from 2014 to 2020. These are enormous numbers! But delve into the stories behind them and you will get a sense of the rewards that have sprung from the partnerships forged by organisations, and the dedication of the staff involved, many of whom work with our young people to ensure that they have a brighter future. In this book we have also strived to capture the spirit of adventure, curiosity, close relationships, innovation and opportunity that Erasmus+ delivers. We hope that the readers of this book will join us in recognising everything this programme has done for the UK and its people. It has been our pleasure to manage the programme for the UK on behalf of the Department for Education and the European Commission, and to contribute to the wonderful legacy for the UK and for everyone who has been involved over the past 30 years. Erasmus+ UK National Agency, British Council and Ecorys UK



The brand new Erasmus started with 10 countries and fewer than 1000 students. But in just 10 more years, over 10 times that many would be choosing from even more exciting destinations and opportunities.

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307,700 129,000 101,900 58,800 5,500

2017 Erasmus+ UK photo competition winner Rebecca Nutley, who attended a youth conference abroad, says “Hearts were won, eyes were opened but most of all lives were changed for the better. Love... is all you need.�


Higher education students

Education staff & youth workers

Youth exchanges & volunteers

Vocational training learners

Erasmus Mundus students & staff

That’s a lot of stories from 30 years of UK participation.



From 1987 to 2017, an estimated 600,000 people from the UK studied, trained or volunteered abroad through Erasmus+. The scheme started in 1987, when fewer than 1000 pioneering UK university students studied abroad in ten countries.



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Adriana Costescu, Erasmus+ Co-ordinator, Coventry University

Adriana Co-ordinator 8

Had it not been for the ambitious achievements this programme was pursuing the HE map would have looked completely different today: confident graduates with an international outlook is only the beginning. Shaping the future of so many generations has been one of the most powerful benefits of this programme. It is perceived as a placement but it encompasses much more: embarking on a journey with the purpose of discovering the world, not knowing that you will also discover yourself.

Chris Neill’s 2017 Erasmus+ UK photo competition image shows his friends (from Italy, Portugal, Germany, and Brazil) on a rooftop in Florence. He says “So now, years after our summer in Florence, I am a fully qualified language teacher and have inspired young people to follow in my footsteps, becoming multilingual and exploring Europe. As for those pictured on the rooftop, they are still some of my best friends, and we regularly meet up in all corners of the continent.�



From Cyprus to Estonia, Malta to Poland, many more countries come on board to welcome participants on an experience to shape a lifetime.

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Schools’ activities through Erasmus+ and its predecessor programmes have been essential components of the ongoing development and celebration of the international dimension at Meadowhead School. As a predominantly white-British Secondary School it was felt crucial to bring other cultures and countries into the classroom. Facilitating cross-curricular collaborative projects with many schools in a wide variety of countries has helped its pupils to develop into responsible global citizens. The best experience possible Through a wide range of projects Meadowhead has developed innovative ways to ensure its pupils receive the best educational experience possible and reach their full potential. Its Erasmus+ projects have offered staff and pupils the opportunity to collaborate with partner schools across Europe – from Norway to Slovenia – and involved various subjects including English, Performing Arts and Languages. It has run a school strategic partnership project to improve the employability skills of European teenagers; hosted incoming assistants; and taken part in eTwinning activities. More recently it has offered a work experience project for its sixth form pupils to gain an invaluable insight into the European job market by completing a week-long work placement in a local business of the host countries, Spain and Germany. Staff have also benefited from school partnership visits to Finland and work-shadowing Continuous Professional Development opportunities in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in Germany and Spain. Raising the flag

Pupils’ success Two former students who took part in predecessor Erasmus+ activities and schools exchanges have recently graduated with first class honours degrees in Languages (Spanish, Italian and German) and say that part of their success, love of languages and desire to explore other countries and cultures grew from their participation in international activities whilst at school. Jo Silverwood’s story As International Project Manager Jo has led many student exchanges over the years: “Witnessing the tears of the teenagers at the end of the exchange as we say our farewells to their host partners at the airport, and listening to their stories and friendships made for life and future plans to return to the country or study the target language beyond school is the best job satisfaction I could hope for. “My first Erasmus+ experience came some 22 years ago, thanks to my study year abroad at University, which has led me to my current role and ignited my passion for travel, thirst for learning new languages and exploring other cultures, things I am determined to pass onto the youth of today. “Without this programme we would never have brought so many cultures and innovative ideas to the education and professional development of so many students and staff at Meadowhead School. We are so thankful for the funding opportunities, exciting programmes and support Erasmus+ has provided over the past 12 years. Long may Erasmus+ continue to educate and enrich the lives of the youth of today and open doors to their future that they never even knew existed!”

In recognition of the growing global and multicultural dimension of its curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities, Meadowhead has been designated by the British Council as an ‘International School’ since 2004. It was the first school in Sheffield to be awarded the prestigious International School Award (ISA) for four consecutive terms, something of which it is justifiably proud.

Meadowhead School Academy Trust has taken part in Erasmus+ activities for over 15 years, during which time it has run eight projects, been awarded over €150,000, involved over 500 pupils and staff and changed many lives for the better. 12

Bringing our outstanding practice to the four corners of Europe and showcasing the work we do here has made us much more reflective and creative in our outlook as teachers. Teachers love nothing more than sitting down together to discuss education and their craft. Erasmus+ lifts this to a whole new level! Kevin O’Neill, Acting Principal, St Colman’s Primary School

Pupils from St Colman’s Primary School in Northern Ireland engaged in Erasmus+ activities.


For some of our students who come from very socially deprived backgrounds from areas of Wales, this is a real life changing experience for them. Sian

Sian Holleran, International Co-ordinator, Colegau Cymru/Colleges Wales 14


â‚Ź8. The international dimension of Erasmus+ responds to growing interest by UK universities and students in partnerships beyond Europe. In 2016 there were 71 projects with funding of over â‚Ź8.8 million. This funding made possible the mobility of over 800 students and 1,400 staff between the UK and the world in 2016.


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Thank you Erasmus+ for thirty supportive years! Caroline 18

Caroline Fouracre, Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Lead, St Nicholas Church in Wales Primary School



Masood Yasin, Project Co-ordinator, Praxis Europe

Our goal is to share best practice and ensure learning has a positive impact on adult learners. Masood


Discover how Erasmus+ inspired unqualified Andrew Thompson to found a business.

A new direction

Changing perceptions

Enhancing skills

I left school with no grades to shout about, fully expecting to continue my career with Leeds United. I had it all planned – be offered a professional contract when I left High School, represent my home town club, make lots of money and marry the ginger girl from the band, Sugababes. I didn’t have a plan B, as I didn’t need one. How wrong I was. None of the above happened. So, I quickly needed a Plan B, and ended up on a course at Thomas Danby College.

During my time in Finland, I travelled to Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark as well as taking in as much of the country as possible. I attended Finnish language classes. Picture the scene, this was during the start of the Iraq war, the students had to introduce themselves, there were students from Russia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. I introduce myself, “Hi my name is Andrew Thompson and I’m from England.” At this point the whole class turned around and just stared – my country, had just started bombing their country. Well, this was going to be a fun few weeks! It actually was. I made friends for life with these students, it taught me people are just people, irrespective of where we come from. If you find a mutual interest, you can build a friendship, through this friendship you learn more about each other’s cultures and lives – you become more educated and tolerant towards others. Slowly but surely the English ignorance, and certainly arrogance, that I was guilty of having traits of, started to disappear.

As I say, I could talk and talk about my time in Finland and how it has benefited me, but simply, if I had not gone, I truly believe I would not be where I am today. It taught me so many life skills, as well as interpersonal skills. I had no CV as such, on paper I was a footballer, who got no GCSEs…the thing that got my foot in the door with companies when I finally returned to England to try to get a ‘proper job’ was my time in Finland.

Fast forward to the end of that first year of college and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to go on the European Exchange to Kotka, Finland, for three months. What happened in those three months, without knowing there and then at the time, would shape me into the person I am today. Personal development Until that point, I had been very sheltered, pampered by both my family and Leeds United, and never had to think about cooking, cleaning, shopping, integrating with others. This all changed very quickly from the point of landing at Helsinki Airport. We went straight to the supermarket… I had to buy some food…TO COOK! The panic kicked in – not only was I in a foreign country, I had to buy my own food (that in itself was foreign to me). Was it too late to turn around and go back to Leeds? Outwardly I was taking everything in, encouraging the other boys from the college to get on with it and reassuring them it’s going to be a great experience and opportunity. Yet inside I was missing everyone from home and especially my comfort zone I was so used to. This was probably the first time I realised I could, and wanted to, lead people, despite having my own insecurities. The other lads kept saying, “Tomo you don’t seem fazed at all by this – so glad you’re here” etc. If only they knew what I was thinking inwardly! Fast-forward and I was back out in Finland, this time for the foreseeable future. When I went back, back my then girlfriend’s mother had an art gallery. I offered to help her out one day on an important job in Helsinki. She failed to tell me this important job was for the President of Finland. Later that day we had dinner with the President and Prime Minister (as you do!). I just sat in silence listening to these powerful and influential, but genuinely lovely, people talk business, I found myself inspired. I wanted to be involved in business, but how?

Andrew Sports agent 22

Building futures Now, during the whole time I was out in Finland, I was also playing football – I managed to progress through the various age groups and started with the first team fairly quickly – the others I was there with were also playing, but in other age groups, which meant I was travelling a lot on my own. I was the lone foreigner in the dressing room. I had a choice, I either just sit in silence and go back into myself, or I take a lead role. I couldn’t speak the language at this point, so I had to show it on the pitch. I made a decent impression, soon getting the captain’s armband – this was something I was immensely proud of, as any player would be. A few of us from the under-21’s attended a national training camp at the home of Finnish sport. I knew the lads I was with from either playing with or against them – but we spent morning, noon and night together for three nights that week. Two of the lads I was with went on to have international footballing careers, but had bad injuries quite early on in their careers. We kept in touch throughout this whole time and 15 years later we are now business partners. We run one of the biggest sports agencies in Scandinavia, represent 85% of the Finland national team – one of whom I coached during my first three months in Finland. There’s a lovely photo of me and Teemu Pukki when he was just 12-years-old when he attended a coaching camp I was part of.

I wouldn’t have travelled around the UK as much as I have if I’d stayed at home in Leeds like my friends did. I wouldn’t have felt so confident moving down to London, not knowing anyone, starting a business. I wouldn’t have met those same lifelong friends from every part of the world, with such unbelievably differing backgrounds and upbringings. I wouldn’t have the same confidence I do when challenged with something new and scary. I’m not the most educated (academically). I don’t ever hide that, but I feel proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve achieved that because of my time in Finland. Each day I find myself drawing on experiences and seek strength from my time there.

The thing that got my foot in the door with companies when I finally returned to England to try to get a ‘proper job’ was my time in Finland. Andrew 23


Erasmus+ goes from strength to strength, with more participants, countries and programmes. With so many ways to get involved, Erasmus+ has a wider reach within the UK as well as abroad.

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Sheila Smith, Step by Step Programme Manager, UNA Exchange


We believe international volunteering is a powerful force for change in the world. It is an amazing way for people to learn new skills and gain new perspectives. Sheila


Rick Stein, ‘Aspire to Catering’, Education Business Partnership, Cornwall


Rick Stein Š Anna McCarthy press center

The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, opened by Rick Stein and Jill Stein in 1975, was one of the organisations involved in a Cornwall Council-led project in 2008.

We believe that the more experience our chefs can get working in other restaurants and experiencing their cooking, the more rounded and valuable to us they become. Our history of working with Erasmus+ has been enormously fruitful. Rick Stein


Ollie Clarke, Chef, La RĂŠgalade

It was tough, but it was a fantastic opportunity and it set me on the path to where I am now. Ollie


After 13 years of coordinating Leonardo and Erasmus+ projects, Cornwall Council Education Business Partnership is celebrating one of its biggest success stories, Ollie Clarke, opening his own restaurant in Paris.

Ollie’s story

Entrepreneurial spirit of Erasmus+

Looking towards the future

Ollie took part in a two week Leonardo Mobility placement in 2008 organised by Cornwall Council at The Hotel Warwick while he was training at The Seafood Restaurant. After finishing his apprenticeship, Ollie moved to Paris and became a chef in some top Parisian restaurants. More recently, Ollie put his business skills to the test by buying his own restaurant, La Régalade – Alesia, with his life and business partner Julie Duckett.

In 2015, Cornwall Council Education Business Partnership was successful in applying for a vocational education and training mobility project ‘Aspire to Catering – Cornwall’. Cornwall Education Business Partnership set up a consortium, including The Rick Stein Group of restaurants alongside Further Education providers Cornwall College and Truro & Penwith College, with the aim of preparing learners for work, not simply for a qualification. Rachel Delourme from Cornwall Council explained:

“Taking over a Parisian restaurant, a very French institution that’s been open for 25 years, as an English chef is quite daunting. We’re looking to make a good go of it, it’s a format of restaurant that we don’t really have in the UK – a true bistro. The whole idea is that you eat the same kind of food that you would be eating in a Michelin-star restaurant, we just have to work harder to make it accessible. It’s good food at a price that’s available to the vast majority of the population.

“Coming from Padstow to Paris was certainly a big eye-opener for us; slowly but surely we began to learn more and gain more responsibility over the two weeks. The idea of moving to Paris before that would have been scary and actually being here and living it for two weeks made us realise that it’s not too difficult. It was hard, but it was very enjoyable and it opened the gates for us to decide to move to Paris, which was a huge step in our lives and our careers, so I’m very grateful for it. It was tough and that shouldn’t be underestimated, coming into a Parisian kitchen is a challenge, but one that I couldn’t recommend highly enough. “The Leonardo placement was an important first step in my decision to move to Paris, mainly for the reason that it showed us how easy it was. How different it may be from home but, at the same, time how similar it is and how, in a kitchen, nothing really changes across borders. I had Stephane Delourme as a head chef and he was also instrumental in me moving over to Paris, as he spent most of his early career as a chef there. Erasmus+ was a key step in that direction, and I wouldn’t be here without Stephane.”

“We want them to have a passion and understanding for the industry to allow them to be very successful.” Today Ollie’s own business continues to contribute to the Erasmus+ cycle, taking on Erasmus+ work placement learners from Cornwall Council. He also regularly employs apprentices and strongly believes in continuing the tradition. He said: “It’s a long learning curve for them but it’s fantastic to see an apprentice finish three years, maybe stay on afterwards as a commis chef or chef de partie and to leave to go on to a good restaurant with a future in the industry.

“We are looking to continue our relationship with Rachel Delourme from Cornwall Council and Erasmus+ and continue taking on apprentices in the future. It’s the sustainability that’s important, that the cycle continues, just as with apprenticeships.” At an organisational level, Cornwall Education Business Partnership has had its Erasmus+ participation praised in an OFSTED report for having helped staff, students, the college and the wider community.

“Taking on apprentices is difficult for the workplace because you have someone in the kitchen who’s not experienced. But it’s core to the industry – if we stop taking on apprentices then we take out the next generation of young chefs coming through. “The Erasmus+ programme is fantastic, I think it’s hugely important that people are given the opportunity to get out there and see things. Paris isn’t even that far away, but it’s hugely different from what we do at home. At the same time it shouldn’t be treated as a holiday, it should be treated as an amazing opportunity gifted to them by the Erasmus+ programme, grasped with both hands and made the most of.”

Ollie Clarke at work in a restaurant kitchen; thanks to his work placement in France he now owns his own restaurant in Paris.


Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition winner

“ Getting to stand with this logo was one of the most exciting parts of my placement journey! I got to experience the most amazing placement role at Adidas HQ in Germany! Erasmus+ allowed me to have the best experience on placement and has given me “itchy feet” to continue travelling and working abroad!” Danika Mistry, 2017 Erasmus+ UK photo competition winner



Emily Daly, International School Linking Officer, City of Cardiff Council

City of Cardiff Council, in its goal to support its leaders, teachers and the wider school community in schools across Wales, has carried out a diverse range of Erasmus+ projects. These projects have impacted directly on teaching and learning – developing skills amongst its pupils, school staff and communities. They have also helped to raise standards in schools across the country and enabled City of Cardiff Council to support schools in meeting their national and international priorities. Eight incredible years Emily Daly, International School Linking Officer for City of Cardiff Council, has led on all of the Erasmus+ projects and estimates that they have run over 20, first with Comenius, a schools predecessor programme, and then through Erasmus+. For the five Erasmus+ Key Action 1 projects it has run, as the Consortium lead, City of Cardiff Council received funding to support over 300 teachers in mobility and continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities. Its six Erasmus+ Key Action 2 strategic partnership projects have typically involved around three schools and focused heavily on pupil participation. As a result, over 200 teachers and their pupils have been positively impacted, with the wider schools, partner schools and their combined staff, families and communities also benefiting from the many and varied activities. Projects have covered a broad range of topics, from gender equality to literacy in home languages. Many projects focus on CPD, on issues such as additional learning needs education, parental education and inclusion. And the story continues for City of Cardiff Council as it has just received Erasmus+ funding to run a further four projects looking at a new range of demanding and diverse topics, from robotics to wellbeing in schools. “Thanks to Erasmus+ we are bringing together schools, teachers, young people and wider communities to learn from each other and develop a more global outlook,” said Emily.

Learning and Teaching Together – this pupil-led community project is having real impact on the wider school community. In 2017 two of the participating schools took primary pupils to attend a pupil conference in Spain. Many of the children had not travelled abroad and in order to be chosen as representatives they needed to go through rigorous interview processes, including, in one case, an interview in Cardiff City Hall. The skills the children are learning on the project are significantly impacting on standards already, and the community projects in which they are engaged are bringing parents and the community into schools. Leadership and Management In 2016, 21 head-teachers and senior leaders took part in a study visit to Finland, the first in this two-year project. As a result, many of the schools have adopted techniques learned in Finland, such as standing desks and exercise balls in place of some chairs, and the impact is clearly visible. The leaders have embraced the learning and a large number of presentations have taken place to other school-leaders, teachers, council leads and the Welsh Government. Emily is particularly excited and encouraged by the impact of this project, as a result of which they have established ‘ELAN’ (European Local Authority Network), bringing together local authority representatives to form formal and informal links. Members are currently from 10 member states and from 15 different regions. Emily concludes: “We are delighted that growing numbers of schools all over Wales are now participants in the Erasmus+ programme. This means that not only are we able to impact locally, but also nationally and internationally. We continue to bring teachers from across Wales together to work collaboratively on exciting, demanding and highly relevant topics, but importantly they are working with partners across Europe and beyond. Erasmus+ is one of the most exciting things we have done as professionals and we are proud to be part of this global community.”

Standout projects With such a large number of projects and people involved, it was hard to select just a few examples of successful projects, but these more recent ones stand out for Emily: Family Engagement – this project, completed last year, impacted greatly on the wider communities in all the participating schools. In each case parents are now regular visitors to the schools, participating in learning of their own, supporting pupils and other parents in their learning and generally engaging with school activities.

City of Cardiff Council has been running projects through Erasmus+ and its predecessor programme for over eight years. During this time it has been awarded over €3.3m in Erasmus+ funding, helping to raise standards in Welsh schools and improve global understanding amongst its participants. Modern architecture. National Assembly – Cardiff, Wales.


Erasmus+ is one of the most exciting things we have done as professionals and we are proud to be part of this global community. Emily


100,000 young people from across Europe have been positively affected by taking part in European Voluntary Service (EVS). For many people, volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, for others, like Calum, it can be life-saving.Â

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In 2016 we celebrated 20 years of EVS, part of the Erasmus+ programme that enables young people to volunteer in another country, making a difference to their own lives as well as those they help abroad. Calum’s cure In 2010, Calum travelled to Italy with EVS, supported by UNA Exchange, a youth organisation that offers community-based volunteering opportunities in Wales and around the world. As a young person with a troubled past and limited prospects, he had no idea of the profound effect that the experience would have on him.

In that place, I started to behave. Because it was different, I was outside of my comfort zone. I became quite open-minded, because I realised that people in other countries are just people like me. I learnt about respect, I learnt about loyalty. If I hadn’t gone, I would probably be dead or in jail.” A new path

,000 “Since I was a kid I was always in trouble, and then I turned sixteen and was getting into worse stuff – trouble with the law, drugs, hanging out with the wrong people. I think this was the reason my youth workers arranged to send me to a project in Italy – to keep me out of jail. It was a real eye opener and life-changing.

Calum has gone on to take part in and lead other volunteering activities with UNA Exchange in Poland, Wales and Lithuania. In Lithuania he took part in an eight-month long EVS programme and discovered a love for the outdoors and a new career path in landscaping. He continues to volunteer though, working with children with ADHD and at a homeless shelter.

Top: Bieszczady Mountains, Poland. Bottom: Calum Barron took part in a youth volunteering placement in 2010; it changed his life profoundly.


One year, two countries. Find out how far Erasmus+ took Adwoa Acquah.

“During the process of applying for Erasmus+, I recall telling my friends about studying abroad and even asked them to take part with me but they thought I was crazy! I remember one of them saying, ‘I am happy to be done with studying, I don’t want to do any more studying let alone in another country where I don’t know anyone’. This comment made me realise for the first time that I would be studying and living in an alien country where I knew no one, nor spoke or understood the language, but despite myself, I smiled at the thought.

“Just like my parents, I was also worried about how I was going to settle in and get around with the basic things because I didn’t know a word of Swedish or Dutch. What helped me to not get cold feet was that fact that I saw this opportunity as a personal challenge to see how well I could cope outside my comfort zone and be more independent. With this mindset, I was able to calm myself and my parents down a bit. I also used the stories and experiences of the previous students who had taken part in the programme as examples.

“I saw it as an opportunity to have an adventure but my friends saw it as plain crazy. It didn’t bother me because, even as a young child, I had always said I wanted to travel the world when I was older. So I saw the Erasmus programme as an opportunity to make my dream become reality and to unleash my inner passion for adventures.

“I am a very open-minded person and I have a welcoming personality, so it never even crossed my mind to see the need to exclude myself from other people who are not of the same ethnic background as me.

“Initially, I had planned to take part in Camp America but it meant that I had to pay a deposit in order to sign up for the programme and I could not afford the deposit and have enough money to support me while I was in the USA, even though I had worked for a year to save up. “Hence, when I found out that signing up to Erasmus was free and it also promised financial support during the year abroad, I was convinced that taking part in the programme was certainly an excellent opportunity that I could not let pass me by. “Consequently, that same day I went to the European Office, collected the Erasmus application form, filled it out that very night and sent it to the Erasmus co-ordinator. Without the availability of the Erasmus grant I don’t think I would have even considered taking part in the programme. “I was the first person from my family to study abroad and giving me the go-ahead meant that it was going to be the first time I was going to travel outside the United Kingdom by myself. With this in mind I knew that the next vault would be trying to convince my parents to let me go abroad for a year. “To my surprise, I did not have to do much convincing because both my parents were very supportive and they each told me that they knew I was going to do something like that someday and they were just waiting for it to happen. I did not have to use any of the negotiating skills I had been polishing from three years of studying law. Regardless of this, my parents started expressing their worries as the time drew close to my departure. Their main worries were about the fact that I was going to live so far away from home in two countries for a year where I didn’t know anyone, didn’t speak nor understand the language.

Adwoa Lawyer 38

Even so, on my first induction day in Sweden, I could not help but notice that I was one of the handful of students from an African-Caribbean descent. I saw no more than ten students in the crowd out of 2,000 or more who were from the same ethnic group as me. “That evening my mother’s second question after ‘have you eaten?’ was ‘did you see any other black people?’ Clearly, she was still concerned about me not settling in. During my stay in Sweden, I met some of the Afro-Caribbean students and during one of our conversations I came to find out that their parents also expressed the same concerns that mine did when they decided to go abroad. “This goes to show that perhaps certain ethnic groups may not be able to take part in the Erasmus programme because their parents may be reluctant to let their children go because they fear and worry that their children will not be able to settle in and are likely to feel exposed to social exclusion while so far away from home. “In the Netherlands I also noticed the predominance of white students and the lack of minority groups, especially of Black African-Caribbean decent. In my class and also during most social gatherings I was the only black African. “Personally, this did not bother me because I live in London, which is a very multicultural society, where I work and schooled with people from all different backgrounds. In particular, I live in an area in North London where I am exposed to a very diverse cultural community and so meeting and socialising with others from different backgrounds doesn’t make me feel odd or uncomfortable.

“During my year abroad in both countries, there was never an occasion where I felt as though I was being excluded by the staff, people in my class or my neighbours because of my ethnicity. Everyone I met was very warm, friendly and welcoming. I think this is the beauty of the Erasmus spirit. I went on the Erasmus programme with the mindset of experiencing other cultures, meeting new people and learning new things about myself. It was never a thing on my mind that people were going to be prejudiced against me and vice versa because of my ethnicity. I was able to share some of the best memories of my life, that I will cherish forever, with people from all over the world and from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, in Sweden, my closest friends were Anna (Italian), Felix (Indian/French), Duygu (Turkish/French), Harley (Canadian), Sebastian (Swedish) and Igor (Slovenian) and in the Netherlands, my closest friends are Carmen and Carlos (Mexico), Saskia and Karina (Germany/Indonesian), Soenita and Rolfina (Dutch), Shewen (Sweden), Kristina (Lithuania) and many others. “I feel like I have made life long friends and have shared one of the most amazing and life-changing experiences with these fun people. In the end, I think that social inclusion or exclusion must be an individual effort and mindset. “If a person feels that they will be discriminated against or socially excluded in another culture because they will be a minority in that culture then it is highly likely that such a person will not put themselves on the Erasmus programme. On the other hand, it could be that they themselves are not open-minded enough to learn and accept those from other cultures. I think the important step comes from the individual and changing their mindset – having an open mind to give people a chance regardless of their ethnicity. How better to do this than to take part in the Erasmus programme and challenge yourself! “Like most of the other participants in Erasmus, I have found the programme to be a life-changing experience academically, personally and socially. I have returned home confident, highly motivated, open-minded and more adventurous than ever. I have gained skills and experiences that can enhance my CV. In addition, I feel like I have built friendships for life and gained a fresh perspective on the world and other cultures, as well as the opportunity to travel to other European countries during my year abroad. “I would strongly urge students and staff to choose to take part in Erasmus. I promise you, taking part will be utterly rewarding and one of the most unforgettable times of your life. Erasmus is definitely an opportunity not to miss!”

I think this is the beauty of the Erasmus+ spirit, that you leave your home and meet and study with strangers who later become as close as family. Adwoa 39

Virginia’s Erasmus+ experience has taken her to four different countries, starting with Spain and Italy in her third year at university in 2010/11. She is currently in the middle of a two-year Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s degree and also runs a blog suitably entitled The Well-Travelled Postcard. We asked Virginia to tell us more about her experience of the Erasmus+ programme and to look back at the huge impact it has had on her life and career so far.

Virginia Blogger 40

Erasmus Mundus – a new perspective

Postcards from the Netherlands and Sweden

Postcards from Spain and Italy

“During the first half of my Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s degree in European Society, Politics and Culture, I studied in both the Netherlands and Sweden, although this time the studies were conducted in English.

“As the course is designed specifically “During my Bachelor’s degree in with mobility around the consortium’s Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Exeter, I spent a year eight universities in mind, it’s a very enriching and academically abroad that I split between studying challenging programme that unites at the University of Córdoba in Spain students, lecturers and academics and on a work placement at Giorgio from various cultures and countries Armani Operations in Modena, Italy. and provides access to a very broad What an incredible year! range of perspectives, enabling us to “As an Erasmus+ undergraduate tackle our subject from new angles. studying in Spain I very much mingled with the other international I’ve been very impressed by the students and expanded my network standard of the Dutch and Swedish across the whole of Europe, while education systems and I think that mastering my Spanish and also Erasmus Mundus is an ideal platform gaining new skills through a partto encourage students across Europe time job teaching English in a private and the world to learn from one academy. My experience of working another’s experiences.” in Italy was very different and much more integrated into the local Italian lifestyle, as I was surrounded everyday by Italian colleagues, flatmates and friends. My language skills developed towards fluency at a faster pace and I felt very much a part of the local community.

I’ve been studying, researching and writing papers on contemporary issues in Europe, but I’ve also had additional opportunities, such as organising a conference on fake news, an interactive workshop on EU foreign policy and a summer school on illicit trade, as well as attending meetings with lobby groups and cultural institutions in Brussels and meeting people working in the European institutions.”

“The skills I gained during the six-month work placement at the Modena office of Giorgio Armani were also very useful for future job applications and interviews, and it turned out to be essential for the graduate scheme at O2 that I began after university.”

All images from Virginia Stewart, The Well Travelled Postcard.


Immediate impact

Confidence to continue

Giving something back

“The benefit of my Erasmus+ experience became evident just one year later when I succeeded in getting into the two-year European Leadership Graduate Programme at O2 (a subsidiary of Telefonica), which required all candidates to speak a foreign language fluently and to have professional work experience abroad – two things which Erasmus had given me! That opportunity really launched my career, allowing me to access the professional opportunities of a large multinational like Telefonica, allowing me to travel for work all over Europe and even as far as South Africa, and to work abroad again in Spain for six months on an international assignment with Telefonica, making use of my languages and experiences gained through Erasmus.”

“Having had such a positive experience with Erasmus during my Bachelor’s degree, when I decided some four years later that I wanted to do a Master’s degree, I was very open to the idea of studying abroad again. Had I not taken part in Erasmus previously, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence or enthusiasm to embark on two-year Master’s with such a lot of mobility. I am absolutely thrilled with my Master’s programme and the opportunity that I have to live in so many different countries once again – it’s been another excellent decision.”

“Having experienced Erasmus and gained a place in my graduate scheme after university as a direct result of it, I became really interested in encouraging young people in the UK to develop their intercultural skills, through learning languages, travelling and taking part in Erasmus. This lead me to contribute to several different campaigns such as the Language Launchpad project, produced by Global Graduate and the European Commission, and to give talks in schools and universities about the benefits of an Erasmus+ year and of learning languages.

The Erasmus entrepreneurial spirit “Another result of my Erasmus experiences in Spain and Italy was that in 2012 I started a travel blog called The Well-Travelled Postcard in order to write about everything I’d learned while living abroad. The blog swiftly grew and developed into a really successful project, which eventually saw me collaborating with travel companies and tourist boards all over the world, who invite me to visit destinations, write reviews and experience parts of the world that I’d never dreamed of visiting. Erasmus was my original motive for starting the blog, which has opened so many doors and incredible opportunities for me!”

Bridging the cultural divide “Wherever I travel and live around Europe during my Master’s now, I always meet other young people who have also participated in Erasmus, and that shared experience really helps to form a mutual bond and bridge any sort of cultural difference. I’ve also met up with lots of the friends I made during my Erasmus year and it’s amazing to see where everyone has ended up and where we bump into each other. We form part of a real Erasmus generation that has embraced the EU’s freedom of mobility and move around Europe with ease, spending a few years living in one country, then a few years in another, making the most of the incredible luck we have to move wherever we please in the EU.”

Standing out from the crowd

Virginia entered this winning image for the Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition. She said “Erasmus+ is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience another culture, embrace another community of people, explore another part of Europe and understand the world around us better. Erasmus+ gave me the dream, the courage and the resilience to move abroad, to expand my horizons, to chase my goals, and my life simply wouldn't be the same without it!”


“I was also selected to attend the annual global One Young World summits in Johannesburg and Dublin as a representative of Telefonica, based on my project to encourage intercultural skills in the UK. It’s something I feel passionately about, and I feel that Erasmus+ has given me a platform and the real-life experience to be able to talk about the importance of these skills and hopefully inspire young people to make the most of opportunities like Erasmus+.”

An Erasmus+ year abroad was a compulsory part of my Bachelor’s degree, as I studied languages, but it was also one of the main reasons I was attracted to a degree in languages in the first place, as I wanted to gain experience of living abroad and gain skills that would help me stand out from the crowd. I specifically wanted to try both studying and working abroad with Erasmus+, to get the best of both worlds, and also to ensure I had some decent work experience on my CV ahead of graduating.


30% of UK vocational learners awarded funding for training abroad in 2014-15 are from disadvantaged backgrounds or have additional needs.



The collaboration of maritime emergency search and rescue organisations across Europe allows the Royal National Lifeboat Institution best practices to be shared internationally and help retain committed volunteers.

RNLI Lifeboat in rough seas.



Callum Robinson travelled to Oslo with the Lifeboat Crew Exchange Europe mobility project for a unique experience that enables participants to job-shadow experts and develop new skills. The training received is then shared with their own crews back in the UK.

Supporting emergency rescue services through Erasmus+ The Royal National Lifeboat Institution saves over 400 lives a year and relies on the support of dedicated volunteers to provide its 24-hour search and rescue service. However, only one in ten volunteers join the RNLI from a professional maritime occupation. Marine emergency search and rescue services across Europe are faced with the same challenge and through Erasmus+, RNLI volunteers have further developed the essential skills needed to save lives at sea. The adult education Mobility project ‘Lifeboat Crew Exchange Europe’ provides a unique experience for volunteers to take part in an exchange for maritime rescue services overseas for up to seven days. Participants are able to develop their technical skills, job-shadow experts from other European countries and receive training which can be passed on to the volunteers in their own local crew when they return. Saving lives in the UK Callum Robinson has been on the crew of his local lifeboat centre in Rhyl for over 10 years. He was inspired to join by his father, who volunteered at the station before he was born. Callum was one of a group of RNLI volunteers to travel to Oslo in Norway through an Erasmus+ funded mobility project. Today he works on the national flood rescue team in addition to serving the crew at Rhyl Lifeboat Station – one of the busiest stations in Wales for emergency call outs.


“I found the exchange extremely valuable. Not only did I learn new skills but how to use the equipment we already have in more effective ways. There is a lot of training involved for volunteers – from basic things like standing in the boat in extreme weather to using all the different equipment,” said Andrew. During the exchange Callum learned techniques and saw new equipment used by Norwegian emergency search and rescue. This included firefighting from the boat, a new training facility which incorporated a helicopter crash scenario set in water and unique equipment for cutting clothing from casualties when they are injured. Wider impact At an organisational level, the Mobility project facilitates the professional development of volunteers, helping to develop their competencies both within emergency rescue services and their daily lives. Project co-ordinator Oliver Mallinson explained the project is also a stepping stone in developing a validation method for recognising the skills required by volunteers, both in the UK and internationally. “The collaboration of maritime emergency search and rescue organisations across Europe allows lifesaving best practices to be shared internationally and help retain committed volunteers.” As Callum says: “I am able to refer back to what I learnt and say ‘in Norway they did this and it worked well.’ This year we are training a 17-year-old man who has volunteered and it is vital to be able to pass on these kinds of skills and techniques.”

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In line with Scotland’s proud history of exploration, University of Edinburgh has helped many of its students and staff to discover new lands and new skills through its long and successful participation in the Erasmus+ programme.

Old College Quadrant at the University of Edinburgh, one of the longest standing Erasmus+ organisations in the UK.


Erasmus+ has helped thousands of students from Edinburgh to step out of their comfort zone and experience their own life-changing adventures in towns and cities across Europe and beyond. A popular destination


Edinburgh University estimates it has have received €18 million of funding from Erasmus+ and its predecessor programmes. In terms of funding for this higher education mobility, it is regularly in the top three UK universities, and at least 7000 of its students and staff have taken part. A similar number of students and staff from across Europe have come to Edinburgh to study, making the university the biggest UK recipient of Erasmus+ students from Europe.

Over the past three years alone, Edinburgh University has received around €5 million to fund student and staff mobility through the traditional Erasmus+ programme, supporting over 1600 students on study exchanges and traineeships and around 120 staff on teaching and training mobility visits. In 2016 it was also awarded almost €1.5m in funding for Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM), making it the UK’s biggest recipient of this type of funding last year. This relatively new element of the programme allows the university to send students and staff to and from partners outside Europe. It now has an impressive number of more than 500 Erasmus+ exchange links with more than 300 partners in Europe. Nineteen of these are new ICM partner institutions in 12 non-European countries and Edinburgh expects to increase its participant numbers with them over time, sending and receiving around 240 incoming and outgoing students and staff in 2017.


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The University of Edinburgh was awarded almost €1.1 million in funding for Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM), making it the UK’s biggest recipient of this type of funding last year.



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Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition winners

“ And then it was 2017, the year I re-discovered myself. I discovered my new habits, re-educated myself through being independent and the person I have become today is more appreciating about life and more curious about new challenges.� Zeshan Wajid


Charis Walker spent six months in Amsterdam studying Fashion Management through Erasmus+. She says “By far this was one of the most inspiring and educational experiences I have ever gone through and I feel so privileged to have taken part in it. This has definitely fuelled my passion to travel and I hope to undergo a graduate scheme Aboard after I graduate.�


Elevate helps people to overcome addiction and build employability skills through a work-based recovery programme. The Elevate project has been helping people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction to progress into employment with life-changing results. This Vocational Education and Training (VET) mobility project builds on the successes of a workbased recovery programme developed by a Public Social Partnership, including organisations such as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow Council on Alcohol and Glaswegian education organisation Light on the Path. The successful project has seen all participants remain substance-free after taking part in the project. Jackie Allen’s story Jackie had struggled with substance abuse from a young age after being brought up around drugs. When she joined the programme she wanted to begin a new chapter of her life. Since finishing her work placement through Erasmus+ she has completed a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in business administration. She continues to volunteer in the recovery community following an interview for a Support Worker’s post. She said: “I was 18 when my problems with drugs were at their worst. I’d lost a lot of my family – by the time I was 15 I’d lost my mother and father – and was living with grandparents. I didn’t really want to be there. I had a brother but we were separated and when he sadly passed away five years ago that’s when everything snowballed. I had serious drug issues and suffered a nervous breakdown. “In hospital, I was quickly introduced to a team at North West Recovery Community, who help people in addiction through this time with the aim of getting clean. They also had opportunities to volunteer to help get yourself back into work. So I started volunteering and things started to get better for me. I got involved in lots of training, started earning certificates, which is something I’d never had, and began studying for my SVQs. I thought it was something important to do. And that’s how I got involved with Light on the Path and project co-ordinator Morag Cassidy.


“I look back at my early twenties now and think I was using because I wanted to die. I’ll be 26 in August and now I feel proud of the massive change I have made in my life, to get a career. I’d started doing my Business Administration SVQ and I was told about Swedish work placements which were coming up. I was quite interested in Sweden, and applied straight away. I went through the interview process and I was lucky enough to be chosen. “The hopes I had for what I wanted to get out of the experience? For me, it was the first time abroad without family. I needed to apply for a passport and sort tickets on my own. I wanted to go abroad, do what I was asked to do, enjoy it and not get into trouble. Could I go abroad and be an adult or would I ultimately fail? Well, I didnae. I had great support from amazing people, including Morag. I absolutely loved the experience, to see how other people worked with people in recovery and getting involved in a bed and breakfast which was run as a social enterprise. Now I have completed my Business Administration SVQ and I am involved in a new women’s drop-in centre which will be open throughout the day for people with addiction in Glasgow.” Building employability skills through social enterprise Through the Mobility project, participants have visited Gothenburg, Sweden, to take part in activities tailored to gaining employment after their vocational learning. To apply to take part in the project, participants are required to be substance free for at least twelve months and have been giving their time as a volunteer for at least six months. Participants visit successful social enterprises to enhance their employability skills and gain experience to strengthen their CVs upon their return. One example included work experience at a social enterprise operating a number of businesses including upcycling and screen printing. The participants each worked in different businesses within the co-operative. In addition, participants stayed at a bed and breakfast run using a social enterprise model. The business employed staff from a range of backgrounds, including those with additional educational needs and those with fewer opportunities, and provided a high quality guest experience with excellent ratings on TripAdvisor. Participants were able to learn about the professional practices within the hospitality sector whilst staying there.

Meeting challenges All of the participants who took part in the project have experienced a range of life challenges, from childhood addiction to family breakdown, which can result in low self-esteem and confidence issues, and many had never travelled. Project co-ordinator Morag Cassidy said: “People in recovery often have low educational attainment and the majority have had lots of personal difficulties in their life. The impact of this project has been life-changing. All the participants have continued with their vocational courses and remained substance free after their mobility placement.”

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According to statistics released by the EC in 2015, the UK is the number one destination for education staff to train abroad.






Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition winners

“ This is a picture taken of me on kjeragbolten, a boulder wedged between the mountain over 3000ft high. This was the single most terrifying moment of my life. I went to Oslo with the intention of changing my life and this was the moment I realised I could do it. What you don’t see in the picture is all my of wonderful friends cheering me conquering my fear of heights, without them I could not have done this and I will remember it forever.” Aysha Coker


Studying abroad for a year in Lund changed Alice’s life. It brought together tow of her favourite things: travel and yoga. Thanks to her Erasmus+ experience Alice is now an English teacher in China.


Alison Pearce, Senior Lecturer Strategic Management & International Business, Northumbria University


Erasmus+ exchange fundamentally changed my life, my person, my outlook, my prospects, my future. Everything I did subsequently can be traced back to it. From a “never go south of the river” Geordie, I became an international businesswoman, living and working abroad. My daughter was even born abroad. Now I am passionate about encouraging my students to do the same – with considerable success – and hold lecturing posts in the UK and France! Alison


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The skills I learnt with a one-to-one technician at Renault were invaluable. I learnt more in two weeks than in a whole year at college as this was all practical hands-on experience in a real business environment. Hamza

Hamza took part in an Erasmus+ project in Turkey organised by Praxis Europe. A group of college students undertook two-week work experience placements in the automotive industry.


Celebrating 30 years of Erasmus+.

Both images: Erasmus+ participants



The UK is the third most popular Erasmus+ destination for students volunteering, studying or training abroad, after Spain and Germany.



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Hopefully this project can make a small step towards encouraging more young people to actively participate in entrepreneurship and to consider alternative career opportunities. Mathew Hayes, European Project Co-ordinator, Lancaster & Morecambe College

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Working alongside European partners to help guide and prepare young people to think and act entrepreneurially within their community. Our Erasmus+ effect A small general FE College in the north west of England catering for 5,000 students a year at all ages from pre-entry to HE. Lancaster and Morecambe College has served its local community since 1824 and is a proud partner of Erasmus+. The college’s mission is inspiring and developing individuals and businesses through high quality work-related education and training. The college uses Erasmus+ for student mobilities, staff mobilities and research projects. One of the research projects the college is leading is Digital Timelines, which is focused on supporting those caring for loved ones suffering from dementia. The project uses technology to generate ‘Personal Digital Memories’ to offer Reminiscence Therapy. The college is involved in Erasmus+ because it fits the organisation’s values as an inclusive community-centered college. The programme enables it to offer students experiences and opportunities they never knew existed. “The Erasmus+ effect is so much bigger than this for our college though.” said Jamie Hughes, Director of Business Development at Lancaster and Morecambe College.

“The staff experience is some of the most valuable CPD you could wish for with outstanding sharing of best practice. “The learners involved in the programmes come back more motivated and focused which improves retention, achievement and success rates. “Projects create excellent links with local organisations that then cross fertilise into other areas. Additional funding drawn down can be used to expand opportunities for part-time staff and give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skillset and ability. In some cases students involved in our projects have gone on to become part of the college team. “But where it works the most... is when it is changing lives for the better.” Across Europe young people’s entrepreneurial talents can help strengthen their local economies. ‘Ideas into Action’ is a two year Key Action 2 Strategic Partnership for Youth project led by Lancaster and Morecambe College working alongside European partners to help guide and prepare young people to think and act entrepreneurially within their community. Project staff from partner organisations in each country arrived in Lancaster for the kick-off meeting in early June 2015 to share the initial research and develop a sound basis for the project to be a success. The theme of entrepreneurship and a range of approaches were discussed. The partner countries include the UK, Italy, Slovakia, Romania, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

Aims and outcomes The aims and objectives of the project are to combine the expertise of all partners to create, pilot and refine training materials and share these with associate and social partners dealing with young people. Social partners include: youth clubs and community groups, the voluntary sector, informal youth groups and career guidance professionals – all embracing an international, global outlook. Resources produced as a result of the project will be used across the partnership to deliver entrepreneurial guidance. The project will serve as a model for youth workers and trainers to embed themes and topics essential to a changing labour landscape. It is hoped materials can be adapted for use by different countries, or translated, after the project ends. “Entrepreneurship is a state of mind and this project aims to encourage young people to develop this further, some will already have it and others may be enthused to explore as a result of our actions,” said Ritske Merkus, Dutch Entrepreneur and project partner. Locally, the project will help to increase youth motivation and innovation in the local economy. By delivering a new and fresh approach to entrepreneurship young people can be less reliant on social benefits and take responsibility for their own future. The project outcomes will support young people to expand their horizons and employment outlook.

Project staff from partner organisations in each country arrive in Lancaster for the kick off meeting in June 2015 to share the initial research and develop a sound basis for the project to be a success.


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billion Aerospace is a vitally important industry for the UK supporting over 230,000 jobs and generating over ÂŁ30 billion a year for the economy.

Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving the Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, Scotland.


Aerospace is a vitally important UK industry, supporting over 230,000 jobs and generating over £30 billion a year for the economy. To continue the UK’s manufacturing success as the leading country in Europe for innovation and design, the next generation entering the workforce need the best training.

Through international placements secured with Erasmus+ funding, BAE aerospace apprentices have excelled in their careers and been professionally recognised for their outstanding achievements. Enhancing the skills of apprentices through the vocational education and training mobility project ‘The Apprentice Exchange’, engineering apprentices took part in an 18-day mobility exchange. Participants were selected to work and train on the manufacturing and assembly of the Eurofighter aircraft in Manching, near Munich, Germany. All participating apprentices were in the second year of their three and a half year Advanced Apprenticeship level 3 programme in either aeronautical engineering or business and administration. Technical Training Coordinator at BAE Systems, John Connor, has over 40 years’ experience of delivering training to thousands of advanced apprentices in technical, business and craft areas. He explained the Apprentice Exchange project followed a long history of co-ordinated work exchanges, including mobility projects funded under a predecessor EU programme to Erasmus+.

Better for business

Wider learning

John explained that the biggest benefit to apprentices was exposure to different methods of aircraft building and experiencing new working cultures. He said apprentices become more mobile for working opportunities which may arise in BAE partner companies based not only in Europe, but North America and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the apprentices who join may never have left Britain before.

By taking part in the Erasmus+ funded mobility, the apprentices learn about how different engineering companies operate and discover the differences in their manufacturing methods and equipment, work ethics and practices. Apprentices improve their skill and knowledge base of the European aircraft industry and their own professional competencies, as part of completing their learning and development programme to be recorded in their Personal Development Records.

For the business John said the biggest benefit was the boosted confidence and enhanced communications skills the apprentices return to the UK with. They are able to bring technical best practices from German sites back to BAE and have direct contact with senior management from partner companies during the placement. “There are more than half a dozen apprentices who have taken part in the exchange who are now supervisors and managers in the business. It is the contact with senior managers who back this scheme and the networking opportunities while they are there which helps them to climb the ladder. “Apprentices normally achieve a Grade D pay grade at the end of their apprenticeship and progressing to the next grade can take ten years – I have seen some apprentices achieve this in two. I believe this has been as a result of participating in the exchange and taking full advantage of the Erasmus+ opportunity.”

Participants also have the opportunity to improve their German language skills in a work and social environment. They receive over 60 hours of language lessons which, John explained, all linked to the confidence of the apprentices and helps them develop in their future careers. “Mobility for apprentices has opened their eyes and increased their confidence and understanding of the products we produce, with the ability and confidence to work anywhere in the world,” said John. All participants reported that the training content and, the quality of learning and teaching methods were either good or very good. The mobility has also resulted in stronger working partnerships with German co-ordinators.

An RAF BAE Systems Typhoon fighter.

The scheme allowed me to understand the aerospace sector from a more diverse perspective, not just focusing on the manufacturing elements, but how we interact and do business with either partner companies or suppliers. Jenny 74

Award-winning apprentices Nineteen-year-old apprentice Jenny wasn’t sure what to expect when she took part in her exchange to Germany. The programme pushed her out of her comfort zone, to represent the company professionally and to handle extra responsibility. Experiencing a different workplace gave her a better appreciation of how large organisations are structured and the importance of apprentice and skill training across all sectors. Seven years on, as a product delivery lead at BAE, she believes it made her the engineer she is today.

“The scheme allowed me to understand the aerospace sector from a more diverse perspective, not just focusing on the manufacturing elements, but how we interact and do business with either partner companies or suppliers. It expanded my skill set by learning either new skills, or developing ones I already had – as well as teaching me how to use them in different situations. The lessons I learnt have allowed me to progress to where I am today, as a delivery leader in a new technology area. “It allowed me to become a better-rounded engineer, appreciating all aspects of the engineering life cycle. I was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Rising Star Award as well as the UK National Apprentice Champion award. The exchange programme contributed to the apprentice I became and the engineer I am now.”

Jenny, Engineering Apprentice at BAE Systems.

Jenny Engineer



Looking to the future, with three years of the current programme remaining and exciting times ahead.

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This trip has helped me professionally and socially as I have gained confidence and expanded my skills, such as communication skills, punctuality, confidence in face-to-face communication and listening skills. Khaleem took part in an Erasmus+ project organised by Leicester College. The project was designed to give vocational students a short work placement abroad to help them progress in their chosen careers.

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Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition winner

Pawel Czerniakowski took part in Erasmus+ in 2016 as part of his studies at university.


Even though I am only 23 years old I have a heard thousand times that it is very important to stand out of the crowd. It is crucial to think out of the box. It is essential to be unique. But in the end all that we achieve in our lives depends on other people and the ability to get to know them and integrate with them should be a high-priority. And that is what I learned during my Erasmus+ experience. Pawel


Possibilities NI

This will develop the professionalism of all organisations involved in the project and deepen the European co-operation amongst organisations in the field of youth. Paul McKinstry, Possibilities NI


Helping young people at risk of social exclusion.

The innovative ‘Time for Change Europe’ project will tackle some of the key challenges that young people in Europe are facing right now, that will also affect their long term future. Led by Possibilities NI, the project is aimed at young people, developed in the UK and will be transferred to other member states during its lifetime. This project addresses the needs of young people who are most at risk of being economically inactive, and are more at risk of social exclusion, by involving young people who are severely disadvantaged. The ‘Time for Change Europe’ project uses a unique blend of intensive one-to-one work group activities and challenging outdoor environments and activities to provide young participants with space, away from their normal environment, where they can start to consider the changes that they want to make to their lives. Local non-profit organisation Challenge for Youth developed this programme to work with young people from very disadvantaged areas of Belfast. Many of the young people had experienced conflict and some had been at risk of paramilitary violence. Other problems confronting young people who took part included family breakdown, severe poverty and problems with addictive or self-harming behaviours.  

Why is it ‘Time for Change’?

Across Europe

Young people who face particular social disadvantage are at even higher risk of not having access to/becoming removed from: education, training, employment, and active society – something that is a concern for all EU member states. Currently, 5.5 million young people are unemployed in the EU, meaning that 1 in 5 people under 25 who are willing to work cannot find a job. The unemployment rate among young people is over 20% – double the rate for all age groups combined and nearly three times the rate for the over-25s, and 7.5 million people aged 15 to 24 are currently neither in a job nor in education or training. In addition, due to Europe’s current economic climate, the mobility of learners and youth is of paramount importance and it could be argued that access to mobility is even more important for the most disadvantaged and those at greatest risk of social exclusion. In order to have access to mobility, however, young people must have the skills to enable them to undertake training, education, or work experience.

The ‘Time for Change Europe’ project aims to transfer this innovative programme to Germany, Spain and Lithuania so that the needs of those who are furthest away from opportunity will be addressed, ensuring a greater social equity and inclusion for young people across Europe, while building an evidence base for this and similar youth programmes through research, piloting, and evaluation of the project. This project will also enhance the co-operation between organisations that work with young people in Europe by developing the international experience of young people, youth workers, and youth organisations in each of the partner countries. 

Project aims

This partnership encourages synergies working across several fields while maintaining a strong focus on youth. The aim of this partnership is to encourage action at all levels and to utilise each partner’s unique skills and experiences to ensure the project is delivered and sustained to its full potential, creating the opportunity to build capacity and to share knowledge and good practice.

This project seeks to: • create opportunities and address the needs of young people most at risk of becoming excluded from socio-economic activities; • establish the basic core competencies needed to move into education, work, or training; • directly address these issues by working with young people aged 16 – 25 who are most at risk or already defined in these categories. As such, this project strongly links to the Europe 2020 Strategy (including the headline education target), the Youth on the Move Agenda, and the European Youth Strategy while also ensuring that the most vulnerable young people don’t get left behind or become further socially excluded by new programmes and initiatives.

Sunset over Titanic Belfast, touristic attraction and monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard.


Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition winner and entrant

“ Not so long ago, I was that little guy. I’m from a relatively small city called Peterborough, some of you may know it. Since probably his age I’ve been gazing into the sky and wondering, “what’s past that house/field/ocean?” A decade and some change later, I’m living in Paris and in just the last 3 years my studies have directly and indirectly taken me to 16 countries. Cliché or not, university and this Erasmus+ experience, has given me everything. I am eternally grateful.” Saxon Bosworth


“ During my time in Spain I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with Maria and Helena. They took me under their wing and showed me lots of new things in the city of Valencia, including this beautiful hidden garden. This picture was taken on the last day we spent together. I miss their warm natures and I am grateful that I had the chance to learn so much about Spanish culture and language from them. I now feel like I will always have a home with my friends in Spain and I owe that to Erasmus+.� Chloe Walker


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95% of participants have either gained a full-time apprenticeship or continued studying with the college.


Fred Apprentice 88

Leicester College is making it a goal to provide experiential learning opportunities for participants through an international work placement, targeting young people who have not previously had the chance to travel.

Leicester is ranked within the 10% of most deprived local authorities in England, where one in three people live in areas of high education deprivation. But Leicester College is creating opportunities for international work placements, particularly for those who have not left the UK before. Through the ‘Electrical Maintenance Experience’ and ‘Leicester College Construction’ Vocational Education and Training (VET) projects, the college has been recruiting learners to spend four to six weeks in Seville, Spain. During this time, they have been placed with local companies to improve their workbased knowledge and skills, and to increase their work readiness. Fred Brant’s Story Fred was studying towards his Level 2 in Electrical Installation when he went on the Seville placement and since returning has secured an apprenticeship. Fred feels he became more independent from being away and secured his apprenticeship with Blaby Electrical as a result of his Erasmus+ experience. Fred found that at the interview for the apprenticeship they were very interested in what went on during the placement. The questions they asked about it provided Fred with a great conversation starter at the interview. He was really happy that the college pushed him to go abroad and would recommend this placement to anyone. “The College really helps push you forward, Neil McManus always finds the best options for you. The trip was really worth going on – practically it’s really helped me. I definitely became more independent from being away too.” Adventures in Spain While in Spain, he worked on a variety of techniques and skills as well as doing English-Spanish lessons on a Wednesday with local people. For Fred, the language barrier wasn’t a barrier at all; it ended up being one of his favourite elements of the placement. His top tip would still be: learn more Spanish!

To help, Placement Co-ordinator Neil encouraged the learners to download Duolingo, a language learning app, before they went abroad as well as setting them pre-placement Spanish language vocabulary tasks to help them learn specialist vocabulary they would need while on placement. But, as Fred noted, to learn languages “it’s always better talking to people than using an app.”

Another learner was nearly removed from the course because he had the wrong attitude and his attendance was poor. Neil was able to use the opportunity to go to Seville to motivate him to improve his performance. After undertaking the placement in Seville, Neil has seen a complete turnaround; he is now a model learner, gaining credits and distinctions for his work.

Mohamed said:

Where are they now?

“A key learning experience was being on site in a different country and learning about how they handle electrical work and how the work is carried out. This has given me confidence that electrical work is what I want to do in future. It was a great way to meet new people, interact, learn more about where I was staying and increase my Spanish. This trip has helped me professionally and socially as I have gained confidence and expanded my skills, such as communication skills, punctuality, confidence in face-to-face communication and listening skills.”

95% of learners either have gone on to a full-time apprenticeship or continued studying with the college. Neil and Fred both outlined the importance of this placement when going for apprenticeship interviews; many learners have commented businesses are really interested in finding out more about their international experience. Not only can learners talk about how they feel they have developed since taking part in the placement, they also have photos to serve as a record of the work they have been doing.

Positive impact on learners Neil McManus noted the true impact of the project comes in the retention and progression of the learners. “Out of everyone who’s been on one of the projects, only two people have left the college (out of 80 or 90 participants). All the other participants have either gone on to full time apprenticeships, gone selfemployed or are completing their level 3. “The biggest impact is the maturity and the self-confidence that students come back with. They go from being mice to men – they’ve got a voice, they can express themselves. For example, one learner was studying electrical maintenance from Level 1 and in all the time I have taught him, he never spoke more than ten words. Since returning from Seville, he is chatty, confident and bubbly; he is like a different person.”

A unique selling point 97% of learners felt that they had gained knowledge, skills and competences that they would not have otherwise gained at the College. Through the project, Leicester College has developed new relationships with European partners and increased its international outlook. Neil feels it has had a massive impact on the college. At college welcome events staff are able to say that they can give learners the opportunity to travel to Seville for four weeks, outlining the benefits of doing so. “Once you say that you see the kids’ eyes light up, parents asking if they can come, and then they don’t want to look at any other local colleges,” Neil noted. “Offering students an international work placement puts Leicester College at the forefront – where else would they be given this opportunity?”

Leicester College offers students an international work placement.


There are a lot of people from deprived areas who come to the college and for quite a few of them it’s their first visit ever abroad, you can’t put a value on that. Neil McManus, Construction Programme Area Manager, Leicester College



Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition entrant

Alex Moran travelled to Stavanger in Norway as part of the BSc (Hons) Adult Nurse course at The University of Nottingham. In this image Alex is standing at the edge of the Preikestolen, a famous tourist attraction which towers 604 metres over the Lyseford.



Erasmus+ UK 2017 photo competition entrant

“ I went to live in Salzburg without much of a clue what I wanted to get out of Erasmus+. I found my answer: the adventure of a lifetime. Here’s the snowy arrival I encountered.” Emma Matthews



Sunlight 96

Erasmus+ is a cloud of starlings murmurating An arrow of geese migrating A kettle of late spring swallows. A hand extending across borders Erasmus+ is a blank slate & you are the chalk sketching out futures. You are the cartographer mapping terra nullius; erasing barriers broadening mountain ridges and as the imagination hikes to a clear vantage point you trace the coastlines of self into passports across the skylines of unknown cities along the palms of citizens whose languages you don’t yet speak. Like rivers – stories & placements conjoin to ferry people from cultural hinterlands to new experiences. Every rock & wave of this land becomes an open door welcoming foreign explorers as Erasmus+ pathfinders shepherd the unsure with boundless generosity & savoir-faire. Erasmus+ is a life cycle it is the water cycle: dŵr/agua/l’eau/acqua/wasser/water flowing throughout communities & the workplace it is effervescent self-reliance a taste of international discourse. Erasmus+ is a broad oak tree rooted in the European tradition of extended welcome a canopy of mutual support. You are acorns flung from familiar forests seeding like your mentors before you to grow branches & dream bridges. Erasmus+ is the bright sun questioning do we offer the same warmth we are gifted? You break bread/bara/pan/pain/pane/brot/brood with new friends in old towns; immerse in laughter & learning and as you bathe in yellow sun under a blue sky, understanding dawns You are now a citizen of the world. A poem written to celebrate 30 years of the UK National Agency Erasmus+ programme. By Sophie McKeand


Thank You

The Erasmus+ UK National Agency would like to thank everyone involved in the creation and production of this book from staff at the British Council, Ecorys and B&W, to case study individuals and organisations. Thanks are due to all those who have given their stories freely to us and enabled us to create this book telling the story of Erasmus+ in the UK. Without the hard work and dedication of countless project managers over the last thirty years and throughout the UK, there would be no programme to tell you about. This book is dedicated to each and every one of them. We are particularly grateful to everyone who gave up their weekend to join us one Sunday in August 2017 to be part of the Shaping Futures photoshoot. Adwoa, Andrew, Coral, Khaleem, Hamza, Fred, Callum, Jackie and Wajahat were fantastic subjects, and we owe thanks to Neil from Leicester College who transported his students to Manchester for the day so that they could take part. Mat Wright and all his crew enabled us to capture the spirit of Erasmus+ in some amazing images and they are deservedly mentioned here. The production of this book has been a labour of love between the Erasmus+ UK National Agency and B&W Studio. We hope you enjoy it!


Shaping futures online book  
Shaping futures online book