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Erasmus+ PhD Studentships and Traineeships

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 32 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.

The programme has funded over three million European students to study or train abroad in the last 30 years.

Interested in becoming one of them? Read below to find out more about the Erasmus+ programme and how to apply.

What can Erasmus+ do for your PhD?

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.

Erasmus+ Traineeship or Studentship?

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

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.

Traineeships

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.

Participating countries

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.

Erasmus Programme Countries & Erasmus Partner Countries

The following table lists current Erasmus Programme and Partner Countries:


Erasmus+ Countries
Programme Countries Partner Countries
Austria Albania
Belgium Algeria
Bulgaria Armenia
Croatia Azerbaijan
Cyprus Belarus
The Czech Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina
Denmark Egypt
Estonia Georgia
Finland Israel
France Jordan
Germany Kosovo
Greece Libya
Hungary Lebanon
Iceland Moldova
Ireland Montenegro
Italy Morocco
Latvia Palestine
Liechtenstein Russia
Luxembourg Serbia
Macedonia Syria
Malta Tunisia
The Netherlands Ukraine
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Turkey
UK*

*The UK continues to be an Erasmus Programme Country following the EU Referendum in June 2016. This will apply during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, but may change following Britain's exit from the EU.


Programme countries

Programme Countries include EU member states and well as non-EU countries. These are the countries where your placement will take place.

Partner countires

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.

Funding amounts

Most PhD students will be eligible to receive funding to undertake an Erasmus placement abroad. Below are the amounts which were set for the 2016-2017 academic year:

Study abroad

  • Up to €330 for countries with a high cost of living
  • Up to €280 per month for lower cost of living countries

Work abroad

  • Up to €430 per month for countries with a high cost of living
  • Up to €380 per month for countries with low living costs

Tuition contribution

For students going abroad for the whole academic year (24 weeks), there is also a large contribution made towards your UK tuition fees for the year you are away.

This varies from country to country, so you will need to discuss this with the Erasmus+ representative at your institution.

Additional Support

Students with physical, mental or health-related conditions may apply for additional funding after they have been selected for a placement abroad.

If you are currently eligible for any widening participation funding at your current institution, you may be provided with an extra monthly supplement of €100.

Disadvantaged students are usually those with an annual household income of £25,000 or less, but students should check their eligibility with their home university’s student finance provider.

How to apply

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 before you wish to undertake a placement.

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.

Eligibility

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:

  • Apply for a placement before you graduate
  • Complete your placement within one year of finishing your PhD

Online Linguistics Support (OLS)

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 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.

Learning agreement

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.

Grant agreement

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.

Know your rights

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.

Further information

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.

Other forms of Erasmus funding for PhD students

If you would like funding for a full PhD, there are two options available to you:

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowships (MSCA) allow you to undertake full-funded PhDs abroad. These pre-set 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.
  • Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorates - although these are gradually being phased out (replaced by MSCA), a select number of positions are available in 2017-2018. They also allow you to undertake fully-funded PhDs, between two higher education institutions. You can find out more in our guide to Erasmus Mundus PhD funding.

Last updated - 19/10/2016

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