The Erasmus Programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is a European Union (EU) student exchange programme established in 1987. Erasmus+, or Erasmus Plus, is the new programme combining all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, which was started in January 2014.
There are currently more than 4,000 higher institutions participating in Erasmus across the 37 countries involved in the Erasmus programme and by 2013, 3 million students had taken part since the programme's inception in 1987. In 2012-13 alone, 270,000 took part, the most popular destinations being Spain, Germany, and France. Erasmus students represented 5 percent of European graduates as of 2012.
For many European students, the Erasmus Programme is their first time living and studying in another country. Hence, it has become a cultural phenomenon and is very popular among European students.
The programme fosters learning and understanding of the host country. The Erasmus experience is considered both a time for learning as well as a chance to socialise.