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The EU Programme


The Erasmus Programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), is a European Union (EU) student exchange programme established in 1987. It forms a major part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013, and is the operational framework for the European Commission's initiatives in higher education.

The Erasmus Programme, together with a number of other independent Programmes, was incorporated into the Socrates programme established by the European Commission in 1994. The Socrates programme ended on 31 December 1999 and was replaced with the Socrates II Programme on 24 January 2000, which in turn was replaced by the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 on 1 January 2007.

Erasmus has a number of specific objectives:

 1. improve the quality and to increase the volume of student and teaching staff mobility throughout Europe, so as to achieve at least 3 million student and teacher exchanges by 2012 
2. to improve the quality and increase the amount of multilateral cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe  
3. to improve and increase cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises
4. to spread innovation and new pedagogic practice and supports between universities in Europe

Apart from the student mobility mentioned in the first objective, which is the most visible and "iconic" element in the Programme, support is also given to developing closer links between university faculties.

The aim of Erasmus is to encourage and support academic mobility of higher education students and teachers within the European Union, the European Economic Area countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well as EU candidate country such as Turkey.
Switzerland is again eligible for membership since 2007, after a period of absence following the rejection by that country of closer links with the European Union in the late 1990s.
During that time span, Swiss universities pursued inter-university collaboration with other European institutions through a system closely based on Erasmus.