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


ESN Finland

ESN Uni Turku is one of the 17 local sections of ESN Finland. Finland has five ESN sections in Helsinki area, three in Turku, two in Tampere and the rest of the sections are in Vaasa, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Lappeenranta, Kuopio, Jyväskylä and Joensuu. Many of the Finnish ESN sections are part of their student unions and are working as international committees of their student unions.

In their activities, the sections all over the country organize sauna evenings, parties, pub nights, language buddy activities, sport and cultural events and usually trips to Stockholm, Lapland, Tallinn and St. Petersburg to name but a few things. All sections’ activities differ from each other depending on the local conditions, but most of the sections operate closely not only with their student unions, but also with their institutions’ international student tutors.

On national level, Finnish sections cooperate mainly regionally but plans have been made to have more national cooperation. Finland offers excellent chances for big and small events all over the country. ESN cooperates with SYL and SAMOK, the national unions of students in Finland. ESN Finland is also a part of Allianssi, Finnish Youth Cooperation.

ESN Finland’s highest decision-making body is the National Platform which is a meeting consisting of one or two representatives from each section and takes place twice a year. Recently, ESN Finland established a National Board to take over the domestic ESN responsibilities, to support the Finnish sections and to represent ESN in Finnish contexts. The first official National Board was elected in the National Platform of spring 2009.

For more information on ESN Finland you can visit: www.esnfinland.eu