Those who have completed an Erasmus+ stay usually have a lot to tell. Ideally, all those formative memories and experiences should help as many young people as possible to learn about Erasmus+ and at the same time motivate them to take part in the programme themselves one day. This is exactly what “Erasmus Back to School” aims to do, an initiative that was jointly launched in 2011 by the OeAD and the Austrian Society for European Politics.
The concept is easily explained: Former Erasmus+ students visit their former schools and tell the senior pupils about their experiences and the adventures they had during their Erasmus+ stays. First of all, they will explain the formal framework conditions: When and where can I go with Erasmus+? How long does a stay last, how much financial support is available? How does the application process work? Here, any existing fears of bureaucratic hurdles can be reduced and it quickly becomes apparent that the much-cited “paperwork” is usually much less extensive than assumed.
Moreover, the students presenting “Erasmus Back to School” will also talk about all the things that are not included in learning agreements or degree certificates and yet are the essence of participating in Erasmus+: what is it like to live and study independently and on your own responsibility in another country as a young person; to get to know a new language, culture and everyday life; to find something like a second home in your host country; to make contacts and international friendships that often last a lifetime.
In the OeAD’s anniversary year and ten years after its establishment “Erasmus Back to School” can look back on an extremely successful record in higher education: Former Erasmus+ students have so far conducted approximately 600 school visits – from the tourism schools at the Wilder Kaiser, the Waldorf School in Graz to the school ship in Vienna. In this way they have reached approximately 20,000 pupils, in whom they were able to awaken a desire for Erasmus+ and an interest in a stay abroad. Pupils who at the time were the students of tomorrow and who in the meantime have perhaps completed an Erasmus+ stay themselves within the framework of their later studies and who in turn were able to pass on their experiences to other interested persons within the framework of “Erasmus Back to School”.
“Erasmus Back to School” builds on the commitment and enthusiasm of the students presenting the initiative, who often talk about their experiences more than once within the framework of the initiative. Moreover, the expenses allowance of 60 euros per school visit will not be detrimental to the students’ willingness to participate in the project.
Apart from higher education former Erasmus+ participants now also take part in “Erasmus Back to School” in Erasmus+ vocational education and school education.
We are looking forward to more successful instalments in the years to come!
Author: Tobias Schneider