Erasmus Student Network CoMeet in Madrid

Spain is the top favorite of Erasmus students. And Madrid has beaten Paris, Rome and London in the Erasmus ‘popularity contest’!

by Rose Maramba

Spain’s track record as Erasmus destination is phenomenal. It’s the first choice of Erasmusians’ for years now. Their favorite cities vary but not the country. For example, in the 2010-2011 academic year, the Andalusian city of Granada was the first choice of the European exchange students, with the Universidad de  Granada receiving the largest number of them (2,019 students). The second most popular Spanish city was Valencia (1693 students at the Universitat de Valencia), followed by Madrid (1678 at the Universidad Complutense).

Universidad de Granada (College of Law)

Granada is of course home to the hauntingly beautiful Moorish palace-fortress Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

All in all, Spain received 37,432 Erasmus students that year.

Later, Madrid will top the list of Erasmus students’ favorite  cities.

Fast forward
One of the more recent reports of the European Commission  (, 2013-2014) shows that Spain continues to be the leading destination of Erasmus students.

Here are the European Commission’s 2013-2014 numbers:  Spain received the largest number of Erasmus students (39,277), followed by Germany (30,964), France (29,621), the UK (27,401) and Italy (20,204). These countries also sent the largest number of students abroad. Spain led the pack with 37,235 outbound Spanish students.

Of the Top Ten Universities favored by the Erasmus students no less than six were Spanish: the Universidad de Granada is still Nº 1 with 1918 students; Nº 2, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1731 students; Nº 3, the Universitat de Valencia, 1722; Nº 6, the Universitat Poletecnica de Valencia, 1290; Nº 7, Universidad de Sevilla, 1139; and Nº 8, Universidad de Barcelona, 1106 students.


Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is the world’s most successful student mobility program. From its inception in 1987-1988 over three million European students have had the chance to go abroad and study at institutions of higher learning or apprentice in foreign companies under the program, thereby creating a greater bond among Europe’s youth and preparing them for successful careers.

The following are the Top Ten recipient-countries of Erasmus students according to the Erasmus+ Programme Annual Report published in 2015 (, the latest available data from the EU:

  1. Madrid

    Spain: 42,537 students

  2. Germany: 32,871
  3. UK: 30,183
  4. France: 29,558
  5. Italy: 21,564
  6. Poland: 13,101
  7. Portugal: 11,459
  8. Netherlands: 11,445
  9. Belgium: 10,666
  10. Sweden: 9,754

On a city by city basis, Madrid tops the latest polls and pollsters and students alike can’t seem to stop singing its praises: the lifestyle Madrid offers is high quality, its nightlife is exciting, the cost of living is relatively low, and the transport system is not only easily affordable but also modern and reliable.

Madrid has beaten Paris, Rome and London in the Erasmus “popularity contest”!

The Spanish capital is not the only popular Erasmus destination in Spain. Two other Spanish cities are on the Top Ten List of Cities according to a recent study of over 26,000 European students of their preferences: Seville (5th place) and Barcelona (7th). The study was conducted by Uniplaces, an online accommodation portal for international students  (


What’s so good about Spain, really?

Teatro Kapital, Madrid’s 7-storey disco

Why, the sun of course! Spanish weather’s fabulous more often than not. These days we’ve been wearing open-toed sandals, shorts and light shirts and blouses and getting early tan! The wine is great – and so’s the food. The nightlife: arguably the liveliest on the Continent. Culture-rich! The excellent – and easy-on-the-purse – transport system allows for frequent travel across the country. Spain is the second-largest country in the EU. Which fact opens a world of fun possibilities! On top of that, its universities are quite all right.

Rare are the Erasmus students, indeed, who’ll find themselves bored in Spain.


Featured image: ESN CoMeet 2011/Jirka Matousek via Flickr, CC BY2.0 cropped
Universidad de Granada/Jotaele91 via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA3.0 cropped
Erasmus logo, fair use
Metropolis Building, Gran Via, Madrid/Mr. Ticke, CC BY2.0
Kapital/Ruben Ortega, CC BY-SA4.0