40 per cent of former Erasmus students live and work abroad

More than a third of students who take part in the Erasmus program move abroad later in life, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by the European Commission, assessed 88,000 participants from the European-wide scheme.

Erasmus, set up in 1987 and named after Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch traveller, has taken approximately three million students abroad.

Erasmus announced a revamp of its services earlier this year, with an aim to take four million people abroad in the coming seven years.

In an interview with The Student, Lisa Johnston, undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and former Erasmus exchange student, said: “My year abroad was the best experience of my university degree. Previously, I’d not considered moving abroad after my degree, but now it’s a real possibility.”

The study also found that unemployment was much lower among students who had taken part in the program.

It showed that unemployment was 23 per cent higher among non-participants than with students who had taken part.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Health, Multilingualism and Youth, told The Independent: “the message is clear: if you study or train abroad, you are more likely to increase your job prospects”.

90 per cent of employers across Europe seek attributes in their employees which are enhanced during a year abroad, with the study suggesting that students returning from abroad are 42 per cent more likely than their non-Erasmus peers to possess these qualities.

It suggested that jobs abroad were easier to get following an Erasmus year abroad.

In an interview with The Independent, Joanne Griffiths, an undergraduate student who spent a year in Rouen for her studies, said: “It does make you realise that you can live abroad and it’s not that hard.”

A study conducted for European Languages Day last week concluded that 54 per cent of all mainland Europeans speak a second language, with a quarter able to converse in three.

This contrasts with citizens of the UK, 39 per cent of whom speak two languages.

Last year, the British Academy published a report suggesting that there were “strategic deficits in language learning” across the UK, with “strong evidence of a growing deficit […] at a time when globally the demand for languages is expanding”.

The Guardian reported that British citizens’ dearth of language skills costs the UK up to £48 billion per year, or about 3.5 per cent of GDP.

Earlier this month, the British Army announced that promotion above the rank of Captain required proficiency in a second language, with an army spokeswoman stating in The Daily Telegraph: “Bi-lateral relationships are essential for the army’s future focus on defense engagements”.

A senior army officer also told The Daily Telegraph that any officer aiming for a promotion would have to show “basic survival level speaking and listening skills in a foreign language”.

Nigel Vincent, vice president for research and higher education policy at the British Academy, said that, “By sitting on our linguistic laurels we disadvantage the UK.”

Erasmus have suggested that the recent increase in funding will benefit students across Europe in their bid to enter the job market.

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