Spain, after all, is the European country which receives most foreign students, as well as the third biggest exporter of them after Germany and France. They know all about this at the universities of Granada, Valencia and Madrid Complutense, the three which draw most students. Since the Erasmus Programme was founded in 1987, 1.7 million Europeans have benefited from its grants for mobility within the European Union.
According to the ESN (Erasmus Student Network), learning or impriving a language is indeed one of the prime motivations behind Erasmus exchanges. The resason that European students come to Spain are essentially the language and a few others, such as the climate, the lifestyle and a certain reputation as a relaxed place. It seems evident that these students regard some knowledge of the world’s third most widely spoken language as a valuable additon to their CVs. In the case of Spaniards, English occupies a similar position. Nearly twice as many Spanish students therefore go to British universities as British students go to Spanish ones.
Erasmus of Rotterdam was Dutch, but the average profile of these students is overwhelmingly that of an Italian woman. Of the nearly 28.000 Erasmus grant holders who came to Spain in the last academic year, 24 per cent were Italian. They were followed by students from France (20 per cent), Germany (18 per cent) and Britain (6 per cent). Women are the predominant sex (58 per cent as against 42). When the students are distinguished by both sex and age, the female majority is seen to increase noticeably among the youngest group.
Another surprising fact is that the percentage of students awarded an Erasmus grant varies considerably by subject. Whereas those reading economics, arts, humanities, languages and social sciences generally register levels of mobility of more thatn 25 per cent, other degree courses yield much lower figures. This is especially the case with mathematics and computer sciences, with rates under 3 per cents.