UCL News


UCL undergraduate wins Erasmus essay prize

18 December 2008


Emma Kelly ucl.ac.uk/drupal/site_news/sites/news/files/HomeorAway_Kelly.pdf" target="_self">Read Emma Kelly's winning essay
  • Erasmus
  • UCL International Office
  • UCL Students Abroad
  • UCL European Social & Political Studies
  • Emma Kelly, a final year undergraduate in UCL European  Social & Political Studies, was the regional winner for England in the essay category at the 2008 UK Erasmus Student Awards. She was awarded the £250 prize at an event in London on 9 December. There, she was one of the eight finalists in the 'Essay' and 'Photography' categories who recounted and illustrated their experiences of living and studying in Europe with the Erasmus Programme to an invited audience.

    Emma said: "The Erasmus experience has certainly made a positive contribution -  academically, professionally and personally. It is definitely an experience that should be embraced by all those fortunate enough to have the opportunity, but perhaps like all unfamiliar endeavours it requires a fine print: 'This experience will seriously change your life.'"

    The event was the second stage of a national competition, open to all UK-based students who participated in the Erasmus programme in the 2007-2008 academic year. Over two hundred students submitted an essay or photography portfolio on the theme 'Home or Away?', describing and portraying the academic and personal benefits of their work and study abroad under the Erasmus Programme. A panel of five judges selected the winners from what they have called an 'excellent group of finalists'.

    Emma spent her Erasmus year in Spain studying at the Universitat de Barcelona. She was enrolled for a full academic year, but extended her stay to the end of August, in order to complete a three-month internship at Gild International. She is also TEFL qualified, and taught English to company employees during her time in Spain.


    Emma explains that one of her tasks during her internship with Gild was to represent it at the 'ifest', a conference for international business and enterprise, held in Barcelona. She says: "This provided me with a snapshot of the diverse fabric that makes Cataluña so visually vibrant and socially alive. The industries, nationalities, cultures and events - the fibres that proudly weave the red and gold bars of the Catalonian flag - all make me want to return to this place."

    She is hoping that publication of her essay will "encourage more people to enter the competition in the future", not least because the day of the prize-giving itself "was thoroughly enjoyable and highly interesting".

    To read Emma's prize-winning essay, please see the link at the top of this page.

    Academic Questions

    This was the seventh annual UK Erasmus Student Prize Ceremony. David Hibler, Contract Manager for the Erasmus programme at the British Council said: "Erasmus is an excellent opportunity for UK students and the competition gives us all the chance to have a glimpse of the life-changing experiences that our 'Erasmus Stars' enjoy. Their essays and photographs provide an insight into the benefits of the programme and its impact on the lives of those who take part. As well as becoming more confident, self-reliant and better-prepared for their future careers, Erasmus students gain an international perspective that the classroom alone cannot offer. We hope their stories and images will encourage future students to experience Erasmus for themselves."

    In 2006, UCL undergraduate David Tett (UCL French) won the photography category, and Abla Kandalaft (UCL History) was shortlisted for the essay prize.

    To find out more about Erasmus or, generally, about opportunities for UCL students to study abroad, please use the links at the top of this article.

    Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is the European Commission's educational programme for higher education students, tutors and institutions. It was introduced in 1987 with the aim of increasing student mobility within the European Community, and over 1.7 million students from Europe have taken part in the programme since then. With the introduction last year of work placements to the Erasmus programme, the total number of outgoing UK students participating has now risen from 7,235 in 2006/07 to 10,272 for 2007/08, representing about a 40% increase. This is the second year in a row that there has been an increase in numbers after many years of declining numbers; 2,749 students carried out work placements and 7,523 completed a study visit as part of their degree.

    UCL European Social & Political Studies (ESPS)
    European Social and Political Studies (ESPS) is a challenging, flexible and diverse four-year degree programme, which attracts students from all over the world and launches graduates into careers from investment banking to the European Commission, journalism to law, the Civil Service to academia. It combines specialisation in a humanities or social science subject, with a broad base in European history, law, politics and philosophy, fluency in a European language, and the chance to spend a year in a continental European university.