“They Just Signed and Stamped Papers”

Understanding the Erasmus Student Experience 35 Years On


  • Cosmin Ionut Nada CIIE-FPCEUP https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5780-1763
  • Josef Ploner Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester
  • Laleh Esteki Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FLUP), University of Porto




student mobility, Erasmus, mobility preparation, institutional support, higher education


Erasmus mobility has become an important feature of higher education in Europe and beyond, with the potential to generate significant changes at individual, institutional and systemic levels. More than three decades after the foundation of this successful programme, evaluations reveal that, despite notable progress, several aspects of the Erasmus student experience can be further improved. Based on the lived experiences of Erasmus alumni, this article aims to understand the challenges that emerge in contexts of educational mobility and how they could be better addressed. Three key dimensions are identified in the qualitative accounts of former Erasmus students and analysed in light of previous research: mobility preparation, institutional support for integration, and recognition of study abroad. Concrete recommendations are made to policy and institutional actors on how to prepare and support Erasmus students during their international sojourns, ensuring that the positive outcomes often associated with international mobility are in fact attained.

Author Biographies

Cosmin Ionut Nada, CIIE-FPCEUP

Cosmin is a FCT-funded Research Fellow at the Centre for Research and Intervention in Education (University of Porto). He holds a European PhD in Educational Sciences and has more than eight years of experience in educational research. Cosmin’s research expertise and interests are linked to: migration and education, higher and international education, diversity, social justice, early school leaving, educational policies, and multicultural learning. He has presented findings in numerous academic conferences and has published in leading international scientific journals. Cosmin is currently Administrative Coordinator of NESET and member of the Editorial Board of the European Toolkit for Schools.

Josef Ploner, Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester

Josef Ploner is Lecturer in International and Comparative Education at the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE). His research focuses on higher education mobilities and how they relate to, and intersect, with concurrent forms of global migration, diaspora, and exile. Josef also has a keen interest in tourism, heritage and the cultural industries as meaningful sites of learning, memory formation and cultural contest.

Laleh Esteki, Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FLUP), University of Porto

Laleh is an emerging researcher with a Master`s Degree in Communication Sciences: Culture, Heritage and Science. Her research interests include intercultural communication, acculturation, adaptation, international and Erasmus students. Her previous research was focused on mobility students’ expectations, socio-cultural adaptation, and intercultural communication. As a research collaborator, she provided support to the SOLVINC Project (Solving intercultural conflicts with international students), and the EUniverCities Network. Additionally, she supported international doctoral students through an international office.


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How to Cite

Nada, C. I., Ploner, J. ., & Esteki, L. (2022). “They Just Signed and Stamped Papers”: Understanding the Erasmus Student Experience 35 Years On. Journal of International Students, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v13i2.4296