What is ESN?

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1989 for supporting and developing student exchange.

ESN was originally founded to meet the social needs of Erasmus students after the launching of the Erasmus programme in 1988. The initiative to create the network was taken in a meeting of a group of the first-generation Erasmus students in Gent, Belgium. On 16th of October 1989, the first section using the name Erasmus Student Network, was founded in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Following that, ESN sections were founded in various European universities, and with financial support from the European Community (EC) in October, 1990 the meeting for the official founding of ESN International was organised in Copenhagen, Denmark with 49 participants from almost all member states of the EC.

Since then, the network is constantly developing and expanding. Nowadays, we are present in over 1,000 Higher Education Institutions from 40 countries. ESN is working in Higher Education (HE) offering services to about 220,000 students - mainly on volunteer basis. 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").


Aims / Principles

In synthesis, ESN

  • Works in the interest of international students
  • Works to improve the social and practical integration of international students
  • Represents the needs and rights of international students on the local, national and international level
  • Provides relevant information about mobility programmes
  • Motivates students to study abroad
  • Works with the reintegration of homecoming students
  • Contributes to the improvement and accessibility of student mobility
  • Cares about its members
  • Values volunteering and active citizenship


Who are we for?

Homecoming students

The students who are returning from exchange are being supported in 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.

Exchange students

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 academic, social and practical integration issues. 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, buddy groups, language projects, international food fests, 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 future exchange students to gain international experiences and relevant insights into different cultures.

Finally, ESN International is developing, from the headquarters in Brussels, ambitious projects such as the ESN Survey on the exchange students' rights or the ESNcard.

More information about ESN in www.esn.org.


Information from www.esn.org