Erasmus program history
The European Economic Community, after its foundation in the 1950s, initially addressed educational matters only in the areas of vocational training and the transition from education to employment. When higher education became part of the European agenda during the 1970s, one of the first activities was to promote student mobility. The Joint-Study Programmes (JSP) were established in 1976 and remained operative for about a decade. This pilot programme provided financial support for networks of departments that exchanged students for a period of up to one year and also included some funds, though on a moderate scale, for mobile students. The JSP programme was widely viewed as successful in creating a fruitful academic and administrative environment for student exchange between cooperating departments of higher education institutions in different countries. All of them established various modes of organisational and academic support for mobile students, many were active in joint curricular development, and the most ambitious departmental networks even developed double degrees. However, the limited time-span of institutional support and the extra costs incurred by students during study periods abroad constituted barriers to far-reaching success. Subsequently, in 1987 the ERASMUS programme was inaugurated. Its name not only reminded of the Dutch humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1466-1536), but also served as an acronym for European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.
ERASMUS was not only aimed to increase the quantity of European higher education activities but also to broaden their scope. It rapidly became the most visible of the various newly emerging European educational programmes. Though the financial basis of the programme did not reach the volume needed for pursuing the ambitious aim initially set by the European Community of supporting a temporary study period in another European country of 10 percent of students in higher education, ERASMUS became the largest student mobility programme hitherto established.
Erasmus programme history explained
A new chapter in the history of European support for temporary student mobility and transborder cooperation of higher education institutions was expected to begin when the SOCRATES programme – named after the Greek philosopher and educational reformer of the fifth century B.C. – was established in 1995. Implemented in the area of higher education as from the academic year 1997/98, SOCRATES brought together the various education programmes, thus aiming at increased administrative efficiency and substantive cross-fertilisation of education activities in various sectors. When ERASMUS became a sub-programme of SOCRATES, support for student mobility and cooperation in higher education was substantially increased. In addition to student mobility, teaching staff mobility and curricular innovation were now promoted as well to place special emphasis on a broad development of the European dimension in higher education and to make the non-mobile students profit from the programme as well. The responsibility for administering student mobility and cooperation was moved away from the networks of cooperating departments previously supported, named Inter-University Co-operation Programmes (ICPs), to the centre of the higher education institutions. The European Commission and the individual higher education institutions became partners by concluding so-called Institutional Contracts (IC).