Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for the years 2014 to 2020. It draws together multiple previous European initiatives, including the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes, into one. Erasmus+ provides funding and support for organisations to operate projects consistent with its objectives and which encourage European exchange, co-operation and learning. Project funding of almost €170 million been allocated to Ireland for the duration of the programme. Erasmus+ is funded by the European Union through the contributions of member states, including Ireland.
Erasmus+ aims to modernise and improve the quality of teaching, training and youth work across Europe, and to support the development, transfer and implementation of innovative practices. These objectives are closely tied with the Europe 2020 strategy of achieving a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020 for all of Europe’s citizens. Fundamental goals for Erasmus+ include improving key competences and skills, and fostering partnerships between education and employment. The programme also seeks to promote European values as stated in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Erasmus+ is open to private or public organisations active in the fields of adult education, higher education, school education, sport, vocational education and training, and youth and community work, in any participating country. While the programme enables individuals to travel, work, volunteer and study abroad, applications from individuals themselves are not accepted.
Management of the programme is divided between the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DGEAC) of the European Commission, and National Agencies in the participating countries. Léargas is the Irish National Agency for Erasmus+ in the adult education, school education, vocational education and training, and youth fields. For Erasmus+ in the higher education field, please contact the Higher Education Authority.
Structurally, Erasmus+ is divided into three ‘Key Actions’ describing the kind of project activities possible.
Key Action 1 (KA1), Learning mobility for individuals:
‘Mobility’ in this context simply means physical travel from one country to another for the purpose of learning or professional experience. This action therefore allows organisations to send staff, trainers, students, or young people to other European countries to undertake a dedicated period of learning or professional experience, such as job shadowing, training, volunteering, or gaining work experience.
Key Action 2 (KA2), Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices (Strategic Partnerships):
This encourages organisations across Europe to form strategic partnerships with each other to develop and use innovative methods in teaching, training, and youth work, and to share these results with the wider community. Note that two other actions possible under KA2, Knowledge Alliances and Sector Skills Alliances, are managed centrally by DGEAC.
Key Action 3 (KA3), Support for Policy Reform:
This action is open to the Youth field only and supports dialogue between young people and policy makers.
Each Key Action is subdivided by the sector involved, as the application procedure and rules differ for each field.
For in-depth information about Erasmus+, download the European Commission’s Programme Guide.