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How To: Erasmus (I)

If you've been playing with the idea of whether or not to go on Erasmus but don't know how or where to start, look no further. Diving into an adventure as big as this is always a difficult challenge. Deciding to leave home. Putting yourself on a road towards your destiny. Getting through a mountain of paperwork. But in the end, it's not as difficult as people say. So, let's get started by looking at what Erasmus is and how to apply for it.


What types of Erasmus Grants are there?

There are three types of Erasmus Grants. The Erasmus+ grant, which will certainly appeal to you, allows undergraduate university students to spend a term or whole academic year at another university in Europe. You can choose from universities in all European Union countries, as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Liechtenstein.

If you're a Masters student, you can apply for a Erasmus Mundus grant to study your Masters abroad. And if you want to do an internship or work placement, then you can apply for the Erasmus Placement grant.


What requirements are there to apply for an Erasmus Grant?

To be eligible to apply for an Erasmus Grant you have to fulfil three basic requirements.

First, you must be a citizen of an EU member state or designated non-EU member states that are a part of the Erasmus programme.

Second, you must have accumulated a minimum amount of credits in your course according to ECTS credit transfer standards (normally 90 credits are required, roughly equivalent to a full academic year).

Third, you must speak the language you will be using in your studies to a required level. That language doesn't always have to be English, nor does it necessarily have to be the official language of the country you're going to. For France, courses generally require French, Italy generally requires Italian, and Germany generally requires German. But most other countries offer a number of courses and classes taught in English. Your home university will give you a list of the institutions with which it has agreements in place that allow you to go and study there, as well as information about which language classes will be in at each institution. You have to select one place from that list.

The language level that will be required of you differs from university to university. Some ask you to take their own aptitude tests, but most ask you to present an official certificate of aptitude when applying.

For example, my university recognised Cambridge qualifications among others, that if presented in the field of International Relations would allow you to be exempt from the language level exam. If you didn't have any qualifications, you had to register for a free language level exam at the university. So, if you're interested in apply for an Erasmus grant, remember to ask what language level is required by your university and to either get the necessary certificates ahead of time or register for the relevant exam. They typically require CEFR Level B2 for English (or C1 in the case of universities with harder entry requirements), and Level B1 for other languages.


When can you go on Erasmus?

As you may know, European intergovernmental education agreements (known as the Bologna Process) require university students to complete a Final Year Project in their last year of study. Because of this, most students opt to go on Erasmus in their penultimate year of study to avoid clashing with dissertations and other final year projects. That's what I'm doing, but you can also choose to go on Erasmus in your final year, or even second year of university (I have a friend who did that), even if it is a little early in my view.

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