Student exchange in Europe looks back on 30 years of history. More than 4.4 million students across Europe have benefitted from the ERASMUS programme. Switzerland has been involved for 25 years, with varying status. 

The European education programme ERASMUS is celebrating its 30th year of existence in 2017. With more than 4.4 million students across Europe, including over 44,000 from Switzerland, it has become the largest funding programme worldwide for periods spent abroad. It was first set up in 1987 and was initially limited to students at higher education institutions.

Since 2014 ERASMUS has been part of the new generation of programme Erasmus+ (2014-2020), combining all initiatives in the fields of education, youth and sport. All the European Union member states, as well as the official candidate countries Turkey and the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, are programme countries. Currently, the EFTA states, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, are also among the 33 Erasmus+ programme countries.

Switzerland has been involved in ERASMUS since the 1992/93 academic year, alternately as associated partner of the programme or indirectly. Indirect participation means that Switzerland offers a parallel funding system to individual ERASMUS actions, and it finances those actions directly. At present, the Swiss Programme for Erasmus+ enables people and organisations from Switzerland to take part indirectly. The Swiss Programme for Erasmus+ runs until 2020.

The mobility programme has a long success story behind it. Recognition of the achievements (outputs) gained abroad by means of the European Credit Transfer Systems and the financial support of the period spent abroad form the core of the funding programme. With additional possibilities offered for HEI employees and targeted support for inter-institutional cooperation, today the ERASMUS Programme makes a substantial contribution to the realisation of the European Education Area and to the internationalisation of the field of tertiary education.

Mobility educates
Whether it’s for studies, a traineeship (work placement), apprenticeship or further training, international mobility has a positive effect on a career. Young people who have spent a longer period of time abroad during training double their chances of having a job a year after completing their studies. The advantages of periods spent abroad during training are clear: networks can be extended and personal qualifications improved. In addition, learning and/or teaching in a foreign language and in an unfamiliar environment always means being able to take on board other points of view and to grow in character.


«An exchange abroad is an excellent bridge to the future! This experience offers students more possibilities: they can learn a new language, acquire new knowledge within a discipline and develop valuable intercultural skills. Such periods abroad bring about personal growth and improve employability and the prospects of accessing the world of work.»

Prof. Dr. Michael Hengartner, President swissuniversities


«The period I spent in Sweden further reinforced my interest in socio-political issues. The opportunity not only to study other models of society but also to experience them ourselves in everyday life opens up brand new horizons and a deeper form of understanding.»

Pascale Bruderer, Social Democratic Party, Member of the Upper Chamber of the Swiss Parliament, was at the University College of Växjö, Sweden, for two semesters in the year 2000.


«The mobility experience of one or two semesters is an extra asset in the CV of anyone applying for a job. The willingness to travel and live abroad and the feel for other languages and cultures are essential skills for asserting yourself in a globalised working world.»

Sandro De Pellegrin, Head of HR Shared Services, Avaloq


«Languages open doors. I’m still experiencing the advantages of my ERASMUS period abroad in my work as a business journalist. At this year’s World Economic Forum, thanks to my knowledge of languages, I was able to interview a high-level Mexican delegation on Trump’s policies.»

Patrizia Laeri, TV Economics Editor and Presenter. Spent her time abroad at the Universidad Autonoma in Madrid in 2002.