In 1987 a plan to create an extensive mobility scheme for higher education was approved by the European Community (EC). One part of this was the Erasmus programme – for students in order to provide the opportunity to spend part of their studies abroad.
In 1989 the Erasmus Bureau invited 32 former Erasmus Students for an evaluation meeting in Gent, Belgium. This meeting was a starting point for Erasmus Student Network. The problems that became obvious in the evaluation were the main tasks for the founders of ESN to work on. Behind all this stood the idea of “students helping students“, which is still the most important motto of ESN volunteers.
On 16th of October 1989, the first section using the name Erasmus Student Network, was founded in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Following that, ESN sections were founded in various European universities, and with financial support from the EC, in October, 1990 the meeting for the official founding of ESN International was organised in Copenhagen, Denmark with 49 participants from almost all member states of the EC. ESN International became a legal association. Desiree Majoor from Utrecht, Netherlands was the first president in ESN history.
By 1994 ESN already had 60 sections in 14 countries and it was growing year by year.
20 years after the creation, ESN network consists of 280 sections in 32 European countries as well as in Azerbaijan. New technology has tremendously improved collaboration between sections and frequent meetings strengthen the ties between ESN members as well as serve the possibility to exchange ideas and work together for a better future.
In September 2005, ESN established an official seat in Brussels, where now the International Board, the Secretariat, and interns are working full time.
International Board 2019/2021
Kostis Giannidis (President)
Kostis Giannidis is a 27-year- old active citizen, born in Crete, Greece. Currently, he is finalising his MA in Scientific Study of Religion at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Kostis discovered the world of Erasmus back in 2013, when he undertook his first exchange experience at the Durham University, United Kingdom. Before joining the Board, he was the President of the National branch of the Erasmus Student Network in Greece for two years. In addition, he has been working for the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the DG EAC (European Commission). He is now the President of Erasmus Student Network AISBL where he is responsible for advocating for the improvement of student mobility around Europe and beyond. Kostis is passionate about travelling and meeting people from different cultural backgrounds.
Tajana Mohnacki Vice-PresidentTajana Mohnacki is a 26 year old millenial born in Osijek, Croatia, additionally spiced up by Polish and Slovak roots. Tajana has participated in two exchange programmes in Canada and Poland and has obtained an MA in Cultural Studies and Cultural Management. Before she joined the Board, she worked in the field of business development in a local start-up. Now, she is responsible for the topics of the development and membership of the network, as well as events and training, and all HR related projects and initiatives in the organisation. Tajana is a fan of cheese, coffee and pop culture, it’s hard to find a TV show she can’t quote and she always carries a book around with her.
João Vasco Oliveira TreasurerJoão Vasco is originally from Coimbra, Portugal. Despite being an enthusiast for Portuguese culture, especially Portuguese food and sayings, he considers himself a global citizen. He went abroad under Erasmus+ twice, the first time to Turkey and the second time to Poland. He has studied and worked in the field of International Business and he is now the board member responsible for financial management and funding of the organisation. In addition to his strong interest in economics and international affairs, João Vasco is passionate for travelling and outdoor activities.
Sabina Achim Communication ManagerSabina Achim is an enthusiastic communicator born in Bucharest, Romania. She has pursued a BA in Political Science followed by an MA in Communications and three years of professional experience in the creative sector. Curious and dynamic, Sabina holds the responsibility of building a globally recognisable ESN, as the Communication Manager of the organisation. Together with discovering new cultures and what drives people, she is passionate about travelling, snail mail, cooking, long walks – and could never say no to pizza.
Kaspars Ābelnīca Web Project AdministratorKaspars Ābelnīca, an IT enthusiast and computer science student born in Riga, Latvia, is the Board member in charge of empowering the network through digital tools. He is also a fan of history that loves reading and discovering the world together with friends. As a proud member of the Erasmus generation, Kaspars believes that digitalisation of education will empower youth around the globe and make international mobility more accessible to everyone.
Mission, Vision & Values
The vision and mission of the Erasmus Student Network were discussed and approved at the Annual General Meeting in Thessaloniki 2019.
By 2025, ESN will be the global network of the Erasmus Generation, committed to improving international education and providing self-development opportunities to two million young people, fostering intercultural understanding and creating positive change in society.
Enrichment of society through international students.
The values of Erasmus Student Network that all members stand and work for are: unity in diversity, diversity in the unity (we all have different backgrounds, but share one common aim and goal), students helping students (we passionately commit ourselves to volunteering for the benefits of others), fun in friendship and respect (we enjoy relations based on respect), international dimension of the life (we are open-minded, mobile, like to discover and explore, to co-operate and to interact to break borders), love for Europe as an area of peace and cultural exchange (we live and benefit from the cultural richness of Europe to the utmost), openness with tolerance (we understand and accept others and learn from them), cooperation in the integration (we share an holistic view towards internationality).