Erasmus from Rotterdam, a Dutch scholar living in the Renaissance era has certainly remained a popular figure amongst European youth up until the present day. The name of this brilliant scholar has been immortalized through the acronym ERASMUS (which in full stands for: European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students). It is completely normal for young professionals living within the European Community and other participating states to see their personal and professional networks comprise of individuals who have participated in or have been actively benefiting from an array of opportunities this educational programme has had to offer since it was first introduced in 1987. Many young people participating in the programme could not imagine a world without it.
If Erasmus himself had known what the future of higher education in Europe held, he would have most likely been quite astonished, as during his day, education was available to a mere handful of his contemporaries. While at school, young Erasmus learned Greek, and overall spoke several languages of the day- a welcomed reality in the current EU with 24 official languages. Erasmus frequented and was educated at multiple academic locations inter alia- in Basel, Cambridge, Leuven and Paris.
Europeers UK is a London based initiative geared at young Europeans interested in various aspects of education who have been involved in the Erasmus programme. This group of dedicated young people, working in a diverse range of professional fields and educational backgrounds, would like to make an impact and create opportunities for other likeminded people - hence the fitting name- Europeers. Since its conception the network has been operating under the umbrella of a London based not for profit organization- Momentum World.
The gloomy prospect of Brexit and its potentially daunting consequences cast a shadow of a doubt on educational opportunities for the youth of the UK. Rocketing fees, sky high cost of living, volatile job market all do not bode well for the education of the current and prospective students. We desperately need programmes such as Erasmus+ and international cooperation between our educational institutions that are above political ambition and divisions to ensure the quality of education in Great Britain can only improve and become more accessible to the general population and remain attractive to overseas candidates. Employing technology as can be seen done in e-learning and online courses can be a great tool, but one cannot overlook the importance of learning in a classroom and looking up to inspiring teachers, mentors and peers.
Europeers share a view that education today should be as good as possible, that it should prepare students to pursue the careers of their choice and that it should be egalitarian. They are of a belief that the Erasmus+ programme changes the lives of those who join in, as it boosts their activism, open mindedness and makes them realize the vastness of possibilities that exist in Europe. Europeers support the idea that the programme makes the participating students enter a life of curiosity, gives them a sense of belonging, helps them see the need for cooperation and makes them crave adventure. The ‘m’ in ERASMUS as explained above stands for mobility- and this has been the key component praised by the participants and educational professionals. A prospect to study away from home and absorb the culture of another country, gives students an insider look into a different universe, opens their eyes and unites them with their peers. Without international studying opportunities, youth exchanges, internships and work placements, young people would be left with an incomplete, distorted vision of the world they live in, as well as with fewer perspectives, and would not find a certain confidence and fierceness in navigating a highly competitive job market they are bound to join.
The members of the Europeers’ steering group are very clear on their mission and the future of the project. Every individual Europeer has been assigned a particular field of interest and exploration. Be it social media, networking, journalism, education, or public speaking, everyone has an equally important part to play.
From the British perspective, with a potential Brexit looming over the UK, by showing the array of educational opportunities provided by the ERASMUS+ programme, more young people will become aware of the importance of retaining EU membership.
The launch event is set to take place on March 30th 2016 at Europe House in London.