Student mobility and European identity: Erasmus study as a civic experience?

Kristine Mitchell

Abstract


From its inception, the Erasmus student exchange programme has been promoted by the European Commission as a “civic experience” that instils or enhances a European consciousness among participants. Recent scholarship on European identity has made similar claims about the civic significance of foreign study, yet the empirical basis for these claims remains a subject of debate. This article unpacks the logic of the civic view of Erasmus and submits the individual assumptions to empirical investigation. Based on a survey of more than 2000 respondents from 25 EU countries, this study has the advantage of being both larger and more multinational in composition than the major previous studies. The data largely support the logic of the civic view of Erasmus, demonstrating the intercultural nature of the sojourn abroad, providing compelling evidence that the Erasmus experience contributes to attitudinal changes about Europe among participants, and highlighting significant differences between the Erasmus students and those who do not study abroad when it comes to levels of support for the EU and extent of identifying as European.

Keywords


European identity, social communication theory, contact hypothesis, Erasmus; student mobility

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