Why you should seriously consider an Erasmus+ Traineeship
If you’re in the process of planning your year abroad, you are probably in the middle of a mountain of paperwork, juggling various emails by study abroad coordinators, tutors and professors, whilst trying to tackle essays and all that extra background reading. The thought of what you might actually do on your year abroad has barely even entered your mind, as you’re thinking about where you’d like to go. But it’s important you get a grip on what you’d like to do whilst there, before you choose your dream destination, or make that destinations, as it will play a fundamental part in the success of your year abroad.
Where to start? With so many schemes, volunteering opportunities, study abroad leaflets and work placement etiquette to sift through, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. So here’s where a little bit of genius comes in to wipe the sweat off your brow and make your transition into your year abroad that little bit easier. Ever heard of the Erasmus Traineeship? No? Well, read on, my possums, read on! Guaranteed to change your life and free up a LOT of your time so you can focus on what’s important, what to bring, to fly, to sail or to train, and when your leaving party will be... :)
1. C’est quoi/Que es/Co je to/Was ist das?
It’s a scheme set up by the British Council to help students (undergrad and postgrad) get the chance to study or work as part of their degree. You don’t necessarily need to be a languages student, as it’s open to all as long as you are in Higher Education. The scheme works across 33 countries in the EU and allows you to apply for a grant to help you with your time away, either at university or in a work placement. The maximum amount of time you can spend abroad on this scheme is 24 months, and these can be taken in separate countries as well as at separate points across your university degree, depending on your home university’s guidelines and strictures.
2. Who is eligible and how long does a placement have to be?
As mentioned above, in order to apply for the grant, you need to be a student in Higher Education. If you are a student enrolled on a short term higher education vocational course, such as an HND, you are also eligible. Placements for those on regular Higher Education courses need to be for a minimum of three months. For those on a short term higher education course, the mobility placement can be clipped back to two months minimum. You are also able to take on both a work and study placement, within that time, which is one of the placement scheme’s best features, in our opinion. As long as you get the go-ahead from your home university, the choice is quite literally yours.
Here’s a list of the countries, aside from your own, which are up for the year abroad taking under this scheme:
- Czech Republic
- Slovak Republic
- United Kingdom
You must make sure that the employer and/or university you approach, if outside of your university’s contact list, understands and takes on board the requirements of the scheme.
There will be a Learning Agreement that will need to be signed, involving yourself, the Employer, Higher Education Institution to make sure all parties are agreed on the scheme, the length and the purpose.
3. What financial aid is on offer?
With the Erasmus+-Traineeship, you will be offered a grant (non-repayable) by the British Council, ranging from €350-€400 a month, depending on the country you decide to go to. Moreover, employers usually offer a salary to contribute towards your living expenses. This is usually in keeping with the minimum wage.
On top of this, you will still be eligible for your student loan(s) and some bursaries, although it is wise to check with the organisations offering the latter, as they may already be involved with the British Council/European Commission.
4. How do I research a work placement?
Better the devil you know, they say. Start by asking your Year Abroad Coordinator which students went where, and what they did during their time away on the Erasmus mobility placement. Undoubtedly, they will have a few examples, case studies and perhaps even give you the contact details of both student and employer, so you can ask more in-depth questions.
You could, similarly to a course as mentioned above, research your own placement. This would entail working through the contacts that Erasmus already have with various organisations across Europe. One thing to bear in mind is not just the country, but also the amount of experience you are trying to get and in which field. It may turn out that some of the most popular countries expect you to have a higher language level, so it’s important you are thorough in your research. Try and find out what a typical day would be like, who will be in charge of you, whether you will be autonomous and which skills you are likely to employ/perfect. Less popular destinations are also more likely to have more on offer, which can only be a good thing.
One thing to remember whilst researching your placement is the limitation to it; you can work for either a public or private company of your/your home university’s choosing, but you must make sure it isn’t part of:
European institutions (such as the European Commission and the European Parliament). Organisations managing EU programmes (such as National Agencies) in order to avoid possible conflict of interests and/or dual funding. National diplomatic representation (embassy/consulate) of the student in the host country.
5. How do I apply?
You will need to speak to your university’s international and/or Erasmus office. The staff there will be able to inform you of the necessary requirements, from paperwork to applications, to help you on your way. As placements are becoming increasingly popular, it is recommended that you visit your office and conduct research as soon as possible, to gain as valuable a placement as possible. If you’d like more info about the sort of jobs available, or to speak to an adviser working in partnership with Erasmus, try out Eures, a great website packed with information left to right, top to toe, about all the fantastic opportunities out there for students planning to work on their year abroad, and check out our Jobs Board too!