Looking to study abroad as part of your PhD? An Erasmus+ placement can fund you to do so.
The Erasmus+ programme allows students to undertake a placement abroad in one of 33 participating countries. What’s more, you may even be eligible for a grant to do so.
As well as seeking out new cultural experiences, a placement abroad will broaden your language, interpersonal, and communicative skills. It may also boost your employability and career development.
Unfortunately, the UK left the Erasmus initiative at the end of 2020. However, the UK government has announced a new international exchange programme called the Turing Scheme to replace it.
Erasmus+ provides students with the opportunity to study or work abroad for up to twelve months during your PhD.
This period of ‘mobility’ doesn’t need to be completed in one go. You can undertake several placements during your PhD, so long as their sum total doesn’t amount to more than 12 months for the whole duration of your PhD.
Placements do not necessarily have to be undertaken during your PhD, either. It is possible to undertake a placement after you have graduated, but you must apply before you graduate. This can be a great option if you want to use some professional training to enhance your PhD before applying for jobs.
As well as the benefits mentioned above, undertaking a studentship or traineeship abroad can also provide you with access to equipment and resources you might not otherwise encounter at home.
Need to access a unique archive in another country? Or collect data at a foreign research centre? An Erasmus+ PhD placement could help you do that.
So, not only will you be increasing your career opportunities and personal development, your PhD will have an innovative edge that other students’ may not.
The Erasmus programme is about to embark on a new phase, running from 2021 to 2027. This will involve nearly double the budget of the previous phase, which ran from 2014 to 2020.
The UK government decided in December 2020 not to renew its membership of the Erasmus programme. Any programmes that begun in the 2014 to 2020 phase of Erasmus will continue to receive funding until they’ve finished, however.
The Turing Scheme is intended to replace Erasmus in the UK. It’s a £100 million international exchange scheme for universities around the world and will fund around 35,000 British students.
We’ll be keeping an eye out for any updates on how the Turing Scheme will work – sign up to our newsletter to stay informed.
There are two types of Erasmus+ placement available to PhD students: traineeships and studentships.
Both opportunities allow you to increase your potential – and the potential of your PhD. You just need to decide whether this should be academically centred or work-based.
In both cases, your period abroad must be relevant to your degree, and you must be able to show that it will accommodate your personal development needs.
Studentships are ideal if you would like to increase your soft skills, such as communication, language, and intercultural skills.
They’re also ideal if you want to access training, resources or expertise outside your home country.
Depending on the type and duration of your study abroad placement, it may be possible for you to accumulate credits towards your degree just like you would at home.
Your study abroad placement can last for between 3 and 12 months.
Training abroad allows you to gain international work experience that you may not otherwise do at home.
It is possible to receive a wage for certain work placements, but you will need to discuss with your Erasmus+ coordinator which placements offer this.
Traineeships last for between 2 and 12 months. Ideal if you want a shorter placement.
Erasmus+ is made up of institutions in both Programme Countries and Partner Countries.
You can view a list of the countries involved in Erasmus+ below.
The following table lists current Erasmus Programme and Partner Countries:
|Programme Countries||Partner Countries|
|The Czech Republic||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
Programme Countries include EU member states and well as non-EU countries. These are the countries where your placement will take place.
Partner Countries can participate in the programme, but on a limited basis. This means your placement is less likely to be in a Partner Country.
Most PhD students will be eligible to receive funding to undertake an Erasmus placement abroad. Below are the amounts set for the 2020-21 academic year, although these are likely to change when the programme moves into the 2021 to 2027 phase.
Applications to the Erasmus+ should be made through your current institution. In order to find out which placements are on offer, you should speak to your university’s Erasmus+ coordinator.
Note that you should normally apply the year
Students wishing to undertake traineeships can also make use of the ErasmusIntern, a student networking site which brings together traineeship providers and students seeking opportunities abroad.
Placements must usually take place in an Erasmus Programme Country, though Partner Countries can take part in some activities. Speak to your Erasmus+ coordinator to find out more.
As noted above, placements can be undertaken after you finish your PhD, but you must:
As a prerequisite for entering the Erasmus+ programme, all students must undertake an OLS language assessment before departure.
This is to ensure that your language ability meets the requirement for the institution at which you wish to undertake your placement.
The results of the language assessment will not prevent participants from taking part in Erasmus+.
Instead, the OLS provides a support scheme through which your language acquisition can be improved.
OLS is available in Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. These are the main languages for the majority of Erasmus+ experiences.
Proficiency is increased through online tutoring, MOOCs, forums, and more.
Participants whose language ability is sufficient may opt to follow a course in the local language instead, provided the language is available on OLS.
In cases where linguistic support is not available through OLS, other means of support will be provided by either your sending or receiving institution.
When you return from your placement you will undertake another OLS assessment, to monitor how far your proficiency has been improved.
Whether you undertake a traineeship or a studentship, you will sign a Learning Agreement which outlines how your placement will be undertaken.
For traineeships, it will outline the rights and responsibilities of the various parties involved in the placement, including yourself. It will also outline how your traineeship will be recognised upon successful completion.
For studentships, the Learning Agreement will outline how your study period will be successfully completed, as well as how your period abroad will be academically recognised.
Even if you are not eligible for a grant, you will sign a Grant Agreement which acknowledges the duration of your placement and your rights and obligations.
Although EU laws apply to all EU countries, individual countries may have variations in laws which you might take for granted.
It is also important to note that Partner Countries will not follow EU law.
All students undertaking study abroad should read Your rights as a mobile student published by the European Commission.
You can find out more about Erasmus+ opportunities at the official website.
The ESAA (Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Association) also provides an online networking forum for current Erasmus+ students and Alumni.
The grants and scholarships described on this page can help you spend part of your PhD abroad for work or training. But there is an alternative.
MSCA funding supports students to complete a full PhD abroad. These preset projects are organised through Innovative Training Networks (ITN), in which you work in both the academic and non-academic sectors. Do note that the participating countries differ slightly for this programme. For full information, read our guide to MSCA PhD funding.
Last updated - 12/01/21