Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest student association in Europe. It was born on the 16th October 1989 and legally registered in 1990 for supporting and developing student exchange.
We are present in more than 1000 Higher Education Institutions from 41 countries. The network is constantly developing and expanding. We have around 13,000 active members that are in many sections supported by so-called buddies mainly taking care of international students. Thus, ESN involves around 40,000 young people offering its services to around 350,000 international students every year.
The goal of ESN is to support and develop international student exchange programmes. We work in the interest of international students, to improve the social and practical integration of international students and represent the needs and rights of international students. Our motto is “Students helping Students”. We operate on three levels.
ESN is working in Higher Education (HE):
- offering services to 350,000 students
- 13,000 active members (34,000 with the buddies included)
- mainly on a volunteer basis
- with an average annual growth rate of 12% since 2005
ESN is operating on three levels: local, national, and international.
ESN works for the creation of a more mobile and flexible education environment by supporting and developing the student exchange from different levels and providing an intercultural experience also to those students who cannot access a period abroad ("internationalisation at home").
The International Level is made up by the International Board (IB), the Secretariat and the CNR (Council of National Representatives). Their aim is to represent the interests of the exchange students toward the relevant institutions, the development of ESN Projects on the international level and supporting the national sections of ESN International.
The National Level is made up by the National Boards (NB) and the Board Helpers. Their aim is to work on national projects such as the National Event or the ESNcard, cooperate with the National Agencies and serve as a link between the Local and the International Level.
The Local Level is made up by the sections. They are the base and fundament of the Erasmus Student Network. Their aim is to create activities in the interest of the exchange students, support the integration of the exchange students and reintegration of returning exchange students, represent the requests and expectations of the students towards the universities and coordinate the national programmes on a local level.
Who are we for?
The students who are returning from an exchange are being supported in the reintegration process in their home countries by keeping contact with an international environment. Many local sections are set up by former exchange students, often because they have had good experiences from their exchange period or because they felt a lack of help during their exchange. They also understand better the issues and challenges in a foreign environment.
However, the main focus of ESN is placed on current exchange students, who often face problems (and feel abandoned) in their new environments. Therefore, ESN offers help in the academic, social and practical integration process. This is mainly done through activities in the local sections, which include cultural and social events such as trips to various places within the country, film nights, language projects, international food festivals and last, but not least, parties. In addition to that, many sections have introduced mentor systems, which help the international students mainly in academic and practical integration.
ESN also provides relevant information and encourages the future exchange students to gain the international experience and gain relevant insight into different cultures.