Surprisingly few students know about Erasmus which is quite astounding since almost all students of languages are obliged to spend a year abroad. The Erasmus scheme, set up between several EU universities, allows students to study abroad for a semester or a whole year. Going abroad on Erasmus is easy since the Universities sort out fees and often organise accommodation as well.
Most courses at the University of Southampton courses offer Erasmus or an exchange of some kind to a university outside the UK. For example, a geography student can go to Germany and Economics students have the chance to spend some time in Brazil. Many of these exchanges will be to universities where classes are taught in English. However, if you want to perfect a foreign language which you have previously studied, there are usually opportunities for that. The opportunities available vary from department to department, and it is therefore vital to get in touch with the person responsible for exchanges at your School to find out exactly where you can go.
Unfortunately, not every single course offers Erasmus. For example, a physicist can only go abroad if they are doing the MPhys course and are one of best students in their year. Amy, an environmental scientist wishing to go abroad, says that her department used to organise an exchange with the University of Toronto but that the Canadian university dropped out owing to the recession.
Why can’t everyone go on Erasmus? One of the Erasmus officers exlains that ‘the answer varies with departments – for example Medicine and Biological Sciences find it impossible to fit in an Erasmus exchange due to their very full teaching programme.’ Exchanges are organised by individual departments, not the Erasmus office. Another reason is that they ‘may find it difficult to convert marks into their degree results in Southampton.’ If this is the only barrier preventing students from spending time abroad, then surely it would be well worth making a little more effort in order to give students more global educational opportunities during their time at university.