The European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme enables people at all stages of their lives to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as to help develop the education and training sector across Europe.

With a budget of nearly €7 billion for 2007 to 2013, the programme funds a range of actions including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects are intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers, trainers and all others involved in education and training.

The new Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 replaces the former Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, and eLearning programmes which expired at the end of 2006. There are four sub-programmes which fund projects at different levels of education and training:

  • Comenius for schools;
  • Erasmus for higher education;
  • Leonardo da Vinci for vocational education and training; and
  • Grundtvig for adult education.

Other projects in areas that are relevant to all levels of education, such as language learning, information and communication technologies, policy co-operation and dissemination and exploitation of project results are funded through the “transversal” part of the programme.

In addition, the programme includes Jean Monnet actions which stimulate teaching, reflection and debate on European integration, and which involve higher education institutions worldwide.

What Is It For?

Comenius aims to boost the quality of school education, strengthen its European dimension and promote mobility, language learning and greater inclusion through exchanges and cooperation between schools in different countries.

What Does It Support?

Mobility of Individuals:

  • Comenius in-service training in another country allows teachers and other school education staff to improve their practical skills and gain a broader understanding of school education in Europe through, for instance, professional development courses, conferences and job shadowing.
  • Comenius assistantships allow future teachers to spend between 3 and 10 months in a school abroad, where they assist in teaching in the host school.
  • Comenius individual pupil mobility gives secondary school pupils the possibility of spending between 3 and 10 months in a host school and a host family abroad.


  • Multilateral school partnerships allow pupils and their teachers to take part in joint learning activities with schools from different European countries. This helps to foster intercultural awareness and improve skills in the chosen areas.
  • Language-oriented bilateral school partnerships encourage the use of European languages by giving pupils the chance to practise them abroad through class exchanges, with pupils working together at school and hosted in each other’s families.
  • Comenius Regio partnerships help local and regional stakeholders in school education – teachers, pupils and those responsible for education systems – to exchange good practices.
  • eTwinning takes advantage of the possibilities of the Internet to help teachers across Europe to meet each other, exchange ideas and resources, and set up collaborative projects with their pupils. Rather than funding, it offers them support, training, tools and examples of good practice.

Multilateral projects and networks:

  • Comenius multilateral projects bring together educational staff, training institutions and other organisations active in school education, as well as schools, to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, as well as to help the organisation of experience abroad for student teachers. Comenius multilateral networks, bringing together consortia active in school education, are forums for joint reflection to promote innovation and good practice in a thematic area.

Accompanying measures:

  • Comenius accompanying measures help the Comenius programme reach its objectives, for instance by raising awareness of the importance of school cooperation at the European level.
  • Preparatory visits allow potential partners in Comenius projects to meet and define the objectives and work plan of their future project.

Who Can Take Part?

Participation is open to all active members of the school education community: pupils, teachers, local authorities, parents’ associations, not-for-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations involved in school education, teacher-training institutes, universities, research centres and all other educational staff.

The eligible countries include the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and Turkey. Participation by the Swiss Confederation is defined in the annual call for proposals.

What Is It For?

Erasmus supports increased mobility in higher education — particularly among students, but also among teachers and other staff members. The aim is to foster a Europe-wide approach to higher education. Offering students exposure to other countries and cultures not only enriches their study experience but also promotes a more European-minded, flexible and mobile workforce that improves Europe’s competitiveness and innovation potential.

What Does It Support?

LLP encourages cross-border mobility of students within Europe — in formal higher education and in advanced vocational education and training at post-secondary level — and of teaching and non-academic staff. Over 2 million students have participated since its creation in 1987.

Mobility of individuals to another European country:

  • Students can spend a study period of between 3 and 12 months at a higher education institution in another participating European country. They do not have to pay fees at the foreign university and can take home the course credits that they earn abroad. Student mobility for placements similarly enables students at higher education institutions to do a traineeship or internship in an enterprise or other organisation in another European country. Intensive language courses are available to help Erasmus students prepare for their period abroad in countries with less-widely-used and less-taught languages.

Staff from higher education institutions:

Eligible staff can spend up to six weeks at a partner higher education institution abroad, both enhancing their career prospects and promoting cooperation.

  • Teachers from abroad can benefit local students by providing new lectures, different teaching methods and lessons in a foreign language. At the same time, teachers acquire different perspectives, make new contacts and widen their academic networks. Erasmus teachers may also initiate new mobility and cooperation activities.
  • People working in the business sector can also qualify for Erasmus as visiting lecturers at a partner institution abroad, where they can provide students with fresh insights into the world of business and set up exchanges for student placements and staff training.
  • Non-teaching staff of institutions – such as managers or librarians – can go abroad under Erasmus, to receive training in other institutions or in businesses.

Higher education institution:

  • Intensive programmes throughout Europe – these short study programmes – for students and teachers – last between two and six weeks, and are organised by at least three higher education institutions from three different countries.

Multilateral projects and networks:

Erasmus also supports modernisation and innovation projects in the higher education sector. Staff can get involved in:

  • Multilateral projects on curriculum development, higher education modernisation, cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises, and virtual campuses – these projects run for up to three years and involve a minimum of three countries;
  • Networks: academic and structural networks of institutions and other partner organisations are designed to innovate in specific academic disciplines or in organisation and provide forums for the exchange of best practice.

Who Can Take Part?

Erasmus is open to:

  • Students in formal higher education and in advanced vocational education and training at post-secondary level, including doctoral studies;
  • Teachers, trainers and education staff, including relevant associations, research centres, counselling organisations and others involved in lifelong learning;
  • Enterprises, social partners and other stakeholders, as well as public and private bodies providing education and training at local, regional and national levels.

The eligible countries include the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and Turkey.

What’s It For?

The Leonardo da Vinci programme is helping European citizens to acquire new skills, knowledge and qualifications, and have them recognised across borders in order to improve their employability on changing labour markets. It also supports innovations and improvements in vocational education and training systems and practices.

What Does It Support?

Leonardo da Vinci supports the teaching and training needs of people involved in vocational education and training. All subjects covered by vocational education and training are eligible if they support the transnational transfer of knowledge, innovation and expertise.

  • ‘Initial vocational training mobility’ is for trainees, apprentices and pupils/students in vocational education and training.
  • ‘Mobility for people in the labour market’ puts the emphasis on learning mobility for people with a vocational degree or university graduates, irrespectively of employment status.
  • ‘Vetpro mobility’ supports the exchange of experiences between professionals in vocational education and training, such as teachers and trainers, staff dealing with vocational education and training issues, and guidance specialists.
  • Partnerships are small-scale cooperation projects between partner organisations in different countries on themes of mutual interest that are linked to vocational education and training.
  • ‘Transfer of innovation’ focuses on multilateral cooperation projects to transfer or adapt innovative solutions between countries in vocational education and training systems.
  • ‘Development of innovation’ concerns multilateral, transnational projects developing innovative solutions in the vocational education and training systems at European level.
  • Multilateral networks put the accent on transnational networks to exchange experiences and information in vocational education and training through a thematic or sectoral approach.
  • Preparatory visits can be funded to find partners and prepare a project.

Who Can Take Part?

The Leonardo da Vinci programme is for people in initial vocational education and training:

  • Apprentices and people in secondary school-based learning;
  • People in the labour market (with a vocational or higher education background);
  • Teachers, trainers and other staff responsible for vocational training;
  • Institutions and bodies such as associations and representatives of those involved in vocational education and training, including associations of trainees, parents and teachers’ associations;
  • Enterprises, social partners and other representatives of working life, including chambers of commerce and other trade organisations;
  • Research centres and bodies concerned with lifelong learning issues and any aspect of vocational education and training at local, regional and national levels; and
  • Non-profit organisations, voluntary bodies and non-governmental organisations.

Eligible countries are the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and Turkey.

What’s It For?

Adult education raises the level of knowledge, skills and competences among the adult population and provides a crucial second chance for the large number of adults who leave school early. It also helps to address the challenge that the ageing population poses for European society as a whole.

What Does It Support?

Grundtvig encompasses all levels and sectors of adult education and all forms of learning: formal, non-formal and informal.

  • Multilateral projects bring together institutions and organisations from different countries, to pool knowledge and experience and produce innovative results with European value.
  • Multilateral networks provide a common platform for discussion and exchange of information on key issues, policies or research.
  • Learning partnerships bring together adult education institutions from European countries, focusing on themes of mutual interest.
  • In-service training allows individual trainers or teachers and other staff to pursue professional development.
  • Visits and exchanges for adult education staff may embrace teaching assignments, job-shadowing and other forms of experience-sharing visits to adult education establishments.
  • Assistantships focus on people undergoing initial training for a position in adult education, or who have just qualified, or who are changing careers to those focused on adult education.
  • Senior volunteering projects offer new learning opportunities to senior citizens in Europe, promoting active ageing and emphasising the contribution of seniors to society.
  • Workshops bring together individual or small groups of learners from several countries for innovative multinational learning experiences relevant for their personal development and learning needs, in which learners are also encouraged to share their competences and insights.

Who Can Take Part?

Grundtvig actions support mainly:

  • People lacking basic education and qualifications;
  • People living in rural or disadvantaged areas, or who are disadvantaged for socioeconomic reasons.

They focus on people belonging to groups which are ‘hard to reach’ and which do not generally tend to take part in educational initiatives.

The eligible countries are the 28 EU Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Turkey.

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