Since 1987, more than 3,200 UEA staff and students participated in an Erasmus-funded programme abroad. UEA’s engagement in the programme enabled 4,800 participants to choose UEA as their Erasmus funded destination, diversifying our campus community.

UEA engaged with the Erasmus programme since its inception in 1987 - the European Commission’s mobility scheme was in its 36th successful year at the time of our last year in the programme. In 2020, UEA, along with all UK universities, began the challenging prospect of the UK leaving the programme, with UEA students and staff benefitting from mobility funding until 31 May 2023. 

The scheme has helped develop the skills of over 10 million Europeans and inspired educational innovation in thousands of teachers and practitioners. It has been the cornerstone of student mobility across Europe and generations of participants have benefitted from the clear vision of the European Commission, gaining the edge in an increasingly competitive labour market and increasing skills to become more confident and self-reliant.

As we concluded our final Erasmus report in summer 2023, we took the opportunity to ask Clementine Jones, UEA’s Erasmus Coordinator for the past 16 years (2007-2023), to provide an insight in to UEA’s history through the programme and the key benefits it has brought to UEA and its staff and students.

"I joined UEA in 2007, when there was a big change to the way the European Commission would fund student and staff mobility, merging many of the funding streams under the new heading of the Lifelong Learning Programme. By this time, the Erasmus programme had played a significant part in supporting the UEA student experience and contributing to knowledge building amongst our staff body, demonstrating UEA’s strategic commitment to internationalisation more than thirty years ago. Together, the HE sector, staff and students have helped create the most successful education exchange programme in the world, with UEA contributing to the original European vision of bringing together nations, putting people first in the building of a united Europe.

Since then we welcomed the introduction of the option for student and staff traineeship mobility, especially within Languages mobility where there was a long tradition of students travelling to France and Spain, teaching English as a foreign language. UEA also established its first Erasmus Mundus Masters’ degree – European Masters in Applied Ecology - providing funding streams for inbound international mobility and opportunities for students to complete a 2-year Masters across multiple European universities.

We saw further changes in 2014 when the programme expanded, enabling UEA to establish funded collaboration with global partners in countries where the cost of mobility would have been prohibitive, especially to the participants coming to UEA. From Malawi to Lebanon, and Vietnam to Thailand, we are proud to have enabled over 70 inbound and outbound students and staff to gain funding across three projects. 

During UEA’s engagement in the programme we have expanded dozens of bilateral agreements to become University-wide, opening opportunities to students from multiple schools of study. Since 2020 we have undertaken the intensive administrative process to convert fruitful partnerships in to international agreements outside the Erasmus programme. With host universities from Iceland to Italy and Finland to Turkey, our students can choose from more than 50 European destinations. These long-standing partnerships do not cease as we leave Erasmus, and students can still benefit from accessing funding through The Turing Scheme, but it is the enthusiasm and passion of those staff and students engaging in mobility which will see the continued success and strengthening of UEA’s collaborations across Europe."

“You meet people from all over the world, improve your language skills and separate yourself from the crowd on your CV.”

Matthew Smith (outbound Law student) France

“During a staff training visit in 2011, a future vision was discussed of a small network of like-minded research universities, with a shared commitment to the societal impact. In the course of 2016, the groundwork for the “Aurora Universities Network” was laid and Aurora was formally founded in Fall 2016 – developing into an approved European University alliance in 2020. A huge impact from a short Erasmus exchange between the University of East Anglia and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam”

Kees Kouwenaar, Aurora secretary general (inbound staff) Netherlands

Erasmus has been instrumental for UEA in building communication and openness to new possibilities, to inter-cultural understanding and co-operation and collaboration between countries and participants.

A History of Erasmus 1987-2020


  • European Commission launches a new mobility pilot scheme, introducing the Erasmus programme dedicated to mobility across European Higher Education Institutions (HEI). 

  • UEA engages with the scheme immediately with mobile students from Languages and Sciences.

  • Erasmus reports over 4,000 HEI students are mobile across Europe.



  • European Credit and Accumulation Scheme (ECTS) introduced, providing a European benchmark for academic credits and grading, recognising 60 ECTS as equivalent to a full academic years’ worth of credits. 

  • UEA able to adapt to ECTS by recognising 2 UCU = 1 ECTS. 

  • Erasmus reports over 28,000 HEI students are mobile across Europe.


1994 - 1999

  • European Commission launches a re-branded parent scheme called SOCRATES.

  • UEA increases partnerships across Arts and Humanities; Sciences and Law. 

  • Erasmus mobility across Europe increases to an annual student mobility of 100,000 by 1999.


2000 - 2006

  • Socrates II Framework programme launched. Erasmus remains the flagship programme.

  • UEA sees European mobility numbers increase to over 80 students across participating Schools, especially in Law, Languages and Sciences.


2007 - 2013

  • European Commission rebrands framework programme to Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), with big changes to the historical European funding streams, including the merging of some predecessor programmes. 

  • Erasmus remains the flagship programme, with the introduction of funding opportunities for work-based mobilities for students and staff.

  • A new Erasmus Charter for Higher Education is introduced as a prerequisite for all participating Higher Education Institutions, providing a benchmark of quality standards across Europe.

  • UEA annual outbound European mobility numbers increase and exceed 110 participants.


2014 - 2020

  • European Commission re-brands new framework programme, calling it Erasmus+. Funding streams under the framework programme are re-branded as Key Actions. The traditional “Erasmus Programme” funding stream for HEIs moves under Key Action 1 – Learning Mobility of Individuals.

  • 2018 European Commission reports that over 10 million participants have been supported through Erasmus+ and predecessor programmes.

  • UEA celebrates 30 years of Erasmus with a day of events and talks and the release of a 30 Years of Erasmus at UEA’ booklet, with student and staff case studies dating back to 1987.

  • UEA successful in multiple bids for the new Erasmus+ funding opportunity for International Credit Mobility.

  • UEA annual outbound European mobility numbers increase and exceed 140 participants.

  • 2020 UK Government withdraws from the 2021-27 Erasmus+ Programme, announcing the Global mobility funding Programme, The Turing Scheme, in December 2020.

  • UEA concludes its extended Erasmus agreement on 31 May 2023.

For future information on the history of Erasmus at UEA, outwards mobility funding and study abroad, please contact Alexandra Cole, Head of Global Programmes and Study Abroad.