The EU as a center of culture, knowledge and education is all too often hampered by national borders.
Despite generous Erasmus+ scholarships, Swedish students are among the lowest participants in student exchange programmes within the EU, which is a missed opportunity. Figures from the Erasmus program’s annual report 2016 show that only about 4,000 Swedish students a year participate in Erasmus, placing Sweden in 18th place of the 33 countries participating in the exchange. Unfortunately, we have the same bottom placement when it comes to sending teachers and researchers as guest lecturers or teachers to other member countries.
Erasmus + is more than just an exchange programme. Actually, the entire European project’s survival depends on what relationship today’s youth and future generations have with the EU and to what extent they feel involved in this project of peace and freedom.
It is therefore with huge excitement that I note that every fourth Erasmus student has found love during his or her studies in another EU member state. This has led to over one million Erasmus babies being born during the first 30 years of the programme!
Many people who study abroad stress how much they have learned from spending time in another country. In encountering new cities, cultures and people, you gain new perspectives on yourself, your country and its history. In the long run, I believe that this leads to increased tolerance and respect for people from other countries and cultures, which we certainly need to see more of.