A Portrait of Graduates Taking Part in the Erasmus Programme

Erasmus programmes show undoubtedly a positive impact in terms of both learning and improving the future professional life of graduates.
12 March 2015

Recent surveys carried out by AlmaLaurea confirm the main outcome of the updated “The Erasmus Impact Study” conducted and published by the European Union: Erasmus programmes show undoubtedly a positive impact in terms of both learning and improving the future professional life of graduates.

In fact, an academic experience abroad of this kind increases by 9% the probability of recent graduates’ finding a job one year after their degree.

The first Erasmus Programme was launched in 1987 by European institutions in order to encourage the international mobility of university students. Since then, the Erasmus programme has definitely become the most common initiative aimed at studying abroad recognised by our academic system.

If we take into consideration the entire 2013 graduate cohort, 11% has participated in an international mobility programme recognised by their degree programme. The most popular destination is Spain, chosen by 27% of the students attending international mobility programmes, followed by France (13%), Germany (9%) and the United Kingdom (8%).


Graduates who took part in the Erasmus Programme: Who are they?

The 16th AlmaLaurea Graduate Profile provides a portrait of graduates who took part in the Erasmus programme1. This survey shows that the Erasmus experience is more common during the two years of the Laurea Magistrale than during the first three years of the Laurea Triennale if we take into consideration the whole population of graduates completing both the three-year degree programme of the Laurea Triennale and the two-year degree programme of the Laurea Magistrale. If we instead take into account only those graduates who completed a three-year degree programme, the same survey reveals that around 7% participated in an international mobility programme, without significant differences between those students who would like to continue their career with the Laurea Magistrale and those who declare they would like to stop at the first level.

Among graduates who have attended a Laurea Magistrale course, the share of students who took part in an Erasmus programme during the MA biennium increases to 12.9%. Another 4.9 per cent of them, even though they have not participated in an Erasmus programme during the biennium, did so in their previous university years (i.e. during the Laurea Triennale). Therefore, if we take into account the whole population of the Laurea Magistrale graduates, 17.8% of these graduates declare an experience of studying abroad in their curriculum vitae. As a result, among the Laurea Magistrale graduates, especially among those coming from those families that are more willing to invest in their children international education, the occurrence of study experiences abroad is not far from the European 2020 objectives which aims for 20%.

If we take into account only the single-cycle Laurea Magistrale programmes, 14.3% of graduates participated in international mobility programmes.

By comparison, in the 2004 cohort, prior to the Bologna Process reform, only 9.6% of graduates took part in such programmes.




The likelihood of participating in an international mobility programme varies significantly according to the field of study reflecting some well-known imbalances. In particular, international mobility programmes are rather frequent amongst students in foreign languages programmes (at least 30 per cent), whilst in other disciplines (with the exception of medicine and dentistry) international mobility involves less than the 15% of all students. Particularly low values are found for the health professions group (2.4%), physical education (3%) and education research field (3.6%).


The graduate survey conducted in 2013 also provides information about the participation in international mobility programmes by the geographical location of graduates’ universities. In particular, among the 64 universities involved in the AlmaLaurea study, universities in the North-East show a higher share of graduates engaging in international mobility compared with Southern and Insular universities where international mobility agreements enjoys less appeal.  


Another important element that helps describing the profile of graduates’ having studied abroad is their social and family background. In particular, the parents’ educational level is a selective factor regarding international mobility programme of students: 16% of students taking part in such programmes are children whose parents both hold a university degree, whereas only 5.7% have parents who did not complete upper secondary education. Perhaps, considering the latter families, a period outside Italy is too expensive even if its costs are partly covered by an Erasmus grant or other funding sources. 


GRAPH 5.5 Graduates with a study-abroad experience recognised by their courses, divided by the local origin of their universities and the study certificates of their parents




1At 2015 AlmaLaurea consortium regroups 72 Universities and collects didactic and enrolment data for more than 91% of the graduate population.


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