German students are going abroad in the context of the Erasmus programme, wherever this is possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 9,000 students have embarked on a stay abroad since the start of the year. This corresponds to about 75 percent compared to the time before the pandemic.
‘The initial figures for this year highlight the importance of the Erasmus programme for students, regarding internationalisation of German higher education institutions and also for the DAAD. Interest in a stay abroad within Europe remains as strong as ever. Our member institutions and students have adapted to the extremely challenging situation caused by the pandemic, quickly and responsibly,’ says DAAD professor Joybrato Mukherjee.
‘With the Erasmus+ programme, young people are currently studying abroad via virtual or blended learning models, as well as locally. We are very pleased by this strong interest and the solid numbers. We expect demand to be just as high or even higher in the winter semester. However, we are also very aware of the fact that health and safety must be top priorities of the Erasmus+ programme. This is why we still do not recommend travelling to any high risk areas, for example,’ says Dr Stephan Geifes Director of the National Agency for EU Higher Education Cooperation within the DAAD (NA DAAD).
Solid numbers in the international summer semester
8,765 students embarked on a stay abroad in the international summer semester (starting in January 2021), according to the preliminary figures published by the National Agency for EU Higher Education Cooperation within the DAAD. Up to the reporting date at the end of April, around 75 percent of Erasmus stays abroad could be realised, compared to 2019. Around 12,000 students had been abroad with the Erasmus+ programme in the international summer semester of 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic had begun.
Virtual semester abroad
Digital learning formats have been gaining importance for realising stays abroad with the Erasmus+ programme: the digital options of the programme have so far been used by around 800 students in the international summer semester 2021. These allow students to start their stay abroad virtually from home, and to travel to the host country later on - as far as this is possible. This approach is referred to as ‘blended mobility’. As an alternative, students can also opt to complete a fully virtual course of study from their home. The NA DAAD points out that the type of stay is determined by the host institution’s regulations and the pandemic-related provisions in the respective host country.
The European Union attaches great importance to promotion of collaboration in all areas of education across Europe. Erasmus+, the successful EU programme to support education, training, youth and sport, has a key role in the journey towards a common European education area. A total budget of around 28 billion euros is available for this purpose between 2021 and 2027. 33 programme countries and further partner countries are involved in the programme.