Erasmus Student Network

Erasmus Student Network AISBL
Abbreviation ESN
Motto "Students Helping Students"
Formation 16 October 1989
Legal status AISBL
Purpose Educational
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
  • Rue Joseph II / Jozef II-straat 120, Brussels 1000, BELGIUM
Coordinates 50°50′54″N 4°22′18″E / 50.848256°N 4.371761°E / 50.848256; 4.371761
Region served
Europe (39 countries)
Student organisations
Official language
English [1]
Safi Sabuni
Main organ
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Affiliations YFJ (full membership), EUCIS-LLL (full membership), EAIE (courtesy member), Council of Europe (participatory status), European Movement International (full membership)
5 International Board Members, 4 Employees, 2 Trainees
521 sections, about 13,500 volunteers (July 2016)

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a Europe-wide student organisation. Its goal is to support and develop student exchange on a local, national and international level. It is composed of around 13,500 members in over 500 local sections in 39 countries in Higher Education Institutions, including universities, polytechnics, and university colleges. The network offers its services to around 160,000 international students.[2]

ESN facilitates the social and personal integration of international students. The local ESN sections offer help, guidance and valuable information to both exchange students and students doing a full degree abroad. ESN provides information about academic exchange programmes and student mobility in general.


In 1987, the European Community approved a plan to create a mobility scheme for higher education. Part of it was the Erasmus programme - an exchange programme for students to provide students with the opportunity to spend part of their studies abroad.

In 1989 the Erasmus Bureau invited 32 former Erasmus Students for an evaluation meeting in Ghent, Belgium. This meeting was the starting point for the Erasmus Student Network. The lack of peer-to-peer support was singled out as a major issue and the driving force behind the creation of the Erasmus Student Network, named for the Dutch Renaissance humanist.[3]

ESN sections were founded in various European universities and with financial support from the EC a meeting for the official founding of ESN International was organised in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 1990 with 49 participants from almost all member states that were part of the Erasmus programme. ESN International became a legal association. Desiree Majoor from Utrecht, Netherlands[4] became the first president in ESN history.

By 1994 ESN had 60 sections in 14 countries. In 2004 the ESN network consisted of 170 sections in and outside Europe, from Scandinavia to Morocco. ESN has been growing with an average rate of around 12% since then.

In 2005, ESN established its headquarters in Brussels and legally registered as a Belgian non-profit organisation.

As of July 2016, the Erasmus Student Network consists of 521 local associations ("sections") in 39 countries[5] and has more than 13,500 volunteers across Europe.[6]


ESN works on three levels - local, national and international. It is only active within the borders defined by the Council of Europe. Its president for the 2015-16 term is Safi Sabuni.

Local level

ESN on local level consists of "sections" that directly work with the international students. They organize activities like introduction programmes, get-togethers and cultural events and represent the exchange students and their needs towards academic institutions and local authorities. Together the local sections, or rather representatives from the sections form the Annual General Meeting (AGM), the highest decision-making body of ESN.

National level

The national level represents the needs of international students towards governments and national authorities. Local sections in the same countries together form a National Platform (NP) who can elect a National Board and elects a National Representative (NR) to represent the national network on the international level.

International level

The International Board is the executive body of ESN International and consists of five Board members (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Communication Manager and Web Project Administrator). Since 2005, the members of the International Board are full-time volunteers living and working in Brussels. The International Board is supported by the Secretariat composed of employed staff.

Each country elects a National Representative and all National Representatives form the Council of National Representatives (CNR). During the year they represent the interest of the network and are, after the AGM, the highest decision-making body.

ESN has five International Committees that work together with its respective international board member in charge. The Committees of ESN are - International Committee of Education (ICE), Network and Events Committee (NEC), Finance Committee (FiCo), Communication Committee (ComCom)and IT Committee (IT).

Major projects

While sections are independent to organise their activities on the local level, ESN runs several international projects that are implemented across the Network. The Social Erasmus projects aims to integrate international students into the local community via charity, environmental and education actions.[7] ExchangeAbility aims to improve the situation for students with special needs and support those students to realise a mobility period.[8] PRIME and ESNSurvey are the main research projects that enable ESN to continuously monitor issues concerning international students. ESN widely implements the Responsible Party campaign to raise students´ awareness on responsible drinking.[9]

International events

Since its foundation in 1989, ESN holds Annual General Meetings (AGM), alternating in major cities throughout Europe.

Other activities include annual Cultural Medleys (CM) from 1999 until 2012, and annual meetings of the organization's five Regional Platforms. These Regional Platforms are:


  1. Statutes are both in English and French. Local languages are used by countries and local sections.
  2. Erasmus Student Network -
  3. ESN website,
  4. European Commission -
  5. ESN Sections -
  6. About ESN -
  7. Erasmus Student Network -
  8. Erasmus Student Network -
  9. Responsible Party -

External links

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