Record numbers of Flemish students travel abroad with Erasmus


Both university and secondary school students in Flanders are embracing the benefits of studying abroad in greater and greater numbers

‘Significant advantages’

More Flemish university students than ever before are studying abroad with Erasmus+, the European Union’s student mobility programme. In the 2017-18 academic year, 5,789 Flemish students took part in the scheme, up 2% on the previous year and up 79% on 2008-09.

Most striking of all is the increase in participation by secondary school pupils on technical and vocational courses, who can do internships through Erasmus+. Participation has risen from just 946 pupils in 2014 to 2,305 pupils in 2018.

“This foreign experience gives young people significant advantages in the labour market and in their personal development,” said education minister Hilde Crevits, releasing the figures today. “They not only learn a foreign language, but also qualities such as self-assurance, curiosity and problem-solving. These are skills that employers value and that make young people stronger in general.”

Flemish university students who go abroad spend an average of 4.7 months at the foreign university, with the credits they earn counting towards their degree back home. They can also opt to do an internship abroad, spending on average 3.7 months gaining experience relevant to their studies in a foreign company or other organisation.

Spain is top choice

Erasmus study is particularly popular with students enrolled in business administration, law and literature and linguistics courses. Internships are also popular with those on therapy and rehabilitation courses or studying medicine.

Spain and France have been the most popular destinations for Flemish students for some time, receiving 944 and 821 visits respectively last year. Germany usually comes next, but last year it slipped to fifth place. It was replaced by the Netherlands, which leapfrogged the UK to arrive in third place with 569 visits.

The most popular destinations for secondary school pupils on internships are the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Finland.

Photo courtesy ESN