The Impact of Erasmus+ Mobilities on European Identity: Insights from Sofia University

Author: Penka Hristova (Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria)
Speaker: Penka Hristova
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2021 General Session


“In one of its most recent documents „Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” European Commission has declared its commitment „to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for jobs, social fairness, active citizenship as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity” (COM 2017). One of the main instruments to achieve this goal is through European mobility programmes, such as Erasmus+. There are some previous data showing that there is a positive correlation between the mobility programmes and the strengthening of European identity among the participants (Sigalas 2010, Van Mol 2012, Христова 2016). According to The Erasmus Impact Study (COM 2014), mobility promotes European identity, as more than 80% of the students felt strong relationship to Europe. However, their data were a bit ambiguous, showing a slight decline in the percentage of students that felt more European after the mobility in comparison to their attitudes before the mobility.

The aim of this paper is to show the results from a recent research using both quantitative (online questionnaire) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews) methods among Sofia university students who have participated in Erasmus+ mobilities in Europe. The research gives insights to their background, motivation, exchange experience and the way it has influenced their attachment to Europe. Additional factors, such as the multilignual and multicultural environment in the capital city, which might facilitate the process of constructing a European identity among the participants (King & Carson 2016) are also considered. 


COM (2017) 673 final. Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture. The European Commission’s contribution to the Leaders’ meeting in Gothenburg. Strasbourg, 14th November.
COM (2014). The Erasmus Impact Study. Effects of mobility on the skills and employability of students and the internationalisation of higher education institutions
King, L. and Carson, L. (eds) (2016) The Multilingual City: Vitality, Conflict and Change. Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto: Multilingual Matters.
Sigalas, E. (2010). Cross-border mobility and European identity: The effectiveness of intergroup contact during the ERASMUS year abroad. European Union Politics. Vol. 11, issue 2, pp. 241-265.
Van Mol, Ch. (2013). Intra‐European Student Mobility and European Identity: A Successful Marriage? Population, Space and Population. Issue March/April, pp. 209-220.
Христова, П. (2016). „Чуждоезиковата ситуация в училища, участвали в двустранни обмени по Програма ‘Коменски’”. В: Езиковата ситуация – състояние и тенденции. Материали от дванадесетата международна конференция по социолингвистика, посветена на 75-годишнината на академик Михаил Виденов. София, 5-6 юни 2015 г. София: Международно социолингвистическо дружество, стр. 310-316.”

Keywords: European identity, Erasmus+ mobilities, Sofia University students, quantitative and qualitative research