The Aula Magna of Sofia University hosted a special meeting dedicated to the 30ieth anniversary of the establishment of the Erasmus Program. The event was organized by the Human Resources Development Center jointly with the Council of Rectors.
The celebration was attended by Professor Ognyan Gerdzhikov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Professor Nokolay Denkov, Minister of Education and Science, Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, Professor Lyuben Totev, Chairperson of the Council of Rectors of High Academic Institutions in the Republic of Bulgaria, Ms Tatyana Kalkanova, Executive Director of the Human Resources Development Center, Mrs Maltauro from the European Commission, representatives of the National Agency administering the Erasmus+ Program, officials from Turkey and Romania, rectors and guests.
The celebration was opened by the PM of the Republic of Bulgaria, Professor Ognyan Gerdzhikov who expressed his happiness at being in Aula Magna of the University on such a solemn occasion. He recalled that when he was a student there was no opportunity for young people to travel on such programs that would allow them to go to foreign countries, encounter new cultures, and enrich their knowledge professionally and culturally.
Professor Nikolay Denkov, Minister of Education and Science, pointed out that the Erasmus Program is the biggest exchange program in the domain of education in the EU. In this country it was launched in 1999 and more than 20 000 Bulgarian students and more than 13 000 faculty have availed themselves of its opportunities. Professor Denkov added that if during the period 1999-2000 only 10 high academic institutions participated in it, nowadays 47 of the 51 high academic institutions in this country are part of it. In 1999 only 134 students participated in the program; during the current academic year their number has reached 2450.
Professor Denkov noted that Bulgarian students studied at universities in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Poland and Greece.
“The present program goes to 2020 and there is no doubt that it will be extended because the common European educational area is part of the common European project,” the Minister added and recalled that the so-called Bologna process for the standardization of the high educational systems with its three degrees, Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD, is, in fact, based on the Erasmus foundations.
Professor Dr habil Anastas Gerzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, remarked that for the past 30 years, especially after the Bologna Declaration, the Erasmus Program and its successor, Erasmus+, have significantly contributed to the development of high academic education in Europe, Bulgaria and Sofia University. He stressed that it was difficult to highlight all the benefits of the Ptogram. Professor Anastas Gerdzhikov also said that Sofia University had joined the Program in 2000 with 15 students; presently the overall number of students sent by the University amounts to 3720. The Sofia University faculty that have availed themselves of the opportunities provided by the program for international exchange are 685; the foreign guest lecturers are 290. In the words of the Rector, the statistics shows the scale of the program and how it grows, but what it fails to show is how beneficial it is to students and faculty alike, who were given the opportunity to experience the educational systems of foreign countries and establish contacts with colleagues, thus facilitating further work on joint projects.
The Rector thanked all those people who set up the program and contributed to its development; both on the part of the EU and on the part of the different member-states those were big, longtime efforts. Professor Gerdzhikov also expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the event who are not merely celebrating an anniversary of a program but also tracing the European road to a better common future.
Professor Lyuben Totev, Rector of the University of Mining and Geology “St. Ivan Rilski” and Chairperson of the Council of Rectors of the High Academic Institutions in this country, pointed out that an explicit objective of the program is that since 2015 an opportunity is envisaged for candidates to manage projects aiming at students’ and faculty mobility in program participating countries within the Erasmus+ Program. All these countries are outside the EU. They are 39 countries from the whole world, including Russia, Canada, Kazahstan, Serbia, Ukraine, Israel, the USA, China. These are clear indicators of the future of the Erasmus+ Program and its substantial significance for the development of the academic community.
“Nowadays the Erasmus Program is a symbol of a united young Europe, the latter undergoing a change in the dispositions for learning and teaching at tertiary level of education. It is a demonstration of everything that the EU can reach with a clear vision, enthusiasm and the commitment to cooperation,” Professor Totev added, and on behalf of the Council of Rectors expressed the unanimous agreement to support the initiatives organized to mark the 30ieth anniversary of the establishment of the Erasmus Program in this country.
Ms Tatyana Kalkanova, Executive Director of the Human Resources Development Center, presented the EU sign celebrating the 30ieth anniversary of the Erasmus Program. She thanked for the support clearly expressed today, for the indisputable success of the program in the educational system in this country and pointed out that the event was only part of the initiatives organized for 2017, the Program’s year in the whole EU. Ms Kalkanova made it clear that the organizers’ objective was not just to delineate the exceptional contribution of the Erasmus Project but also to coopt new participants in the program and to attract young people who will avail themselves of the program’s opportunities, hence the importance of the Council of Rector’s support.
She presented the sign with the logo which the EU had created to mark the 30ieth anniversary of the Erasmus Program. Every Bulgarian high academic institution will receive a banner with the official EU logo for the anniversary. The first banner was given to Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.
During the ceremony a cooperation agreement was signed between the Human Resources Development Center and the Alma Mater University TV, the latter being the official media partner in charge of showing events linked with the 30ieth anniversary of the Erasmus Program in this country.
2017 is the year of ERASMUS or EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. The 30ieth anniversary of the most popular European program for educational exchange will be marked throughout the whole EU.
The symbolic start of the Erasmus Year in this country was marked on February, 20ieth, 2017 when the Central Military Club was visualized in EU colours and a history of the program was animated.