Incoming Erasmus+ traineeships
Every year, we accept a number of students from other European universities to do an Erasmus+ traineeship at Surrey.
About Erasmus+ Traineeships
Erasmus+ traineeships offer students at higher education institutions the opportunity to do an EU-funded period of training, research or a work placement at a higher education institution or company in another Erasmus+ programme country. The aim is to increase students' labour market skills.
Erasmus+ traineeships (research placements) are full-time and should be relevant to the student's degree-related learning and personal development needs. They are often integrated in the student's study programme, but are also open to recent graduates.
Please note: The University of Surrey has Erasmus+ funding secured until 2023 for it own students to study or work abroad. Students wishing to come and do an Erasmus+ traineeship at Surrey will need to check the project duration of your home institution's funding.
Erasmus+ Programme Countries
The following countries, including the Overseas Countries and Territories of EU Member State countries, can fully take part in all Erasmus+ actions and mobilities:
Member States of the European Union (EU)
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
Non-EU Programme Countries
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey.
Erasmus+ Partner Countries
Since leaving the EU, the United Kingdom is now an Erasmus+ Partner Country, like Switzerland amongst others, and can take part in certain Actions of the Programme, subject to specific criteria or conditions. As a Partner Country, we continue to be able to host Erasmus+ trainees.
- Students must be registered at a higher education institution that has been awarded the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) and is in one of the Erasmus+ Programme Countries
- Students should be enrolled in studies leading to a recognised degree or other recognised tertiary level qualification, such as a bachelor, master or doctorate
- Your traineeship must be relevant to your degree-related learning and personal development needs and, wherever possible, be integrated in your study programme
- Students can undertake an Erasmus+ traineeship abroad as a recent graduate but your traineeship must be completed within one year of your graduation and you must apply while you are still enrolled in your higher education institution.
- Students will need to fulfil the selection criteria defined by their higher education institution, which may include academic performance, previous mobility experience, motivation, etc.
- Students may not do a traineeship in the country where they are studying
- There is no age limit or nationality restriction
- Traineeships are open to people with special needs and disabilities and the programme aims to promote equity and inclusion for these learners.
Find out more
For further information, see the European Commission's Erasmus+ Traineeships information and frequently asked questions about Erasmus+
Frequently asked questions
Overview of Erasmus+ Traineeships
Following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU on 31 January 2020:
- UK beneficiaries (Higher Education Institutions) can continue to take part in grants awarded under the current 7-year EU budget until their end date, even if it is after 2020.
- The conclusion of the UK Withdrawal Agreement means that higher education institutions and other bodies from programme countries other than the UK can continue to send their students and staff on Erasmus+ mobilities to the UK with funds from the 2019 and 2020 Calls, until the projects finish or until the funds have been exhausted.
Students may do an Erasmus+ traineeship abroad for a period of 2-12 months per study cycle (bachelor/master/doctorate).
Students may receive both an Erasmus+ study grant and an Erasmus+ traineeship grant for a combined total of 12 months per cycle of study.
Successful applicants may be awarded an Erasmus+ traineeship grant by their home institution (not the University of Surrey) to contribute towards the travel and subsistence costs incurred through their traineeship abroad. The National Agency in your country will have details of the grant rates for each Programme Country or Partner Country.
Erasmus+ trainees do not pay tuition or bench fees to the University of Surrey.
At the end of your traineeship abroad:
- For a traineeship that is an integral part of the curriculum, the sending institution must give full academic recognition for the period spent abroad, by awarding ECTS credits or the equivalent. Recognition will be based on the Traineeship Agreement approved by all parties before the period of mobility.
- If the traineeship is not part of your curriculum, the sending institution will provide recognition by recording this period in your Diploma Supplement or Europass Mobility Document, or in the case of recent graduates, by providing a traineeship certificate (Table D of the Learning Agreement for Traineeships) or Europass.
Interested students should apply to the International/Erasmus+ office of their sending higher education institution. The office will provide information about their application and selection process, documents you need to prepare, where you can go, how and when to apply for the Erasmus+ traineeship grant, when you would receive it, and the requirements and responsibilities of your period abroad.
Finding an Erasmus+ Traineeship Opportunity at Surrey
If you are not a native English language speaker, you should provide evidence of your English language proficiency when you approach academics at Surrey about traineeship opportunities (e.g. an English qualification or exam results, a course certificate, a formal CEFR assessment by your home institution's languages department, etc.).
Non-UK/non-Irish students will need to meet the University's English language requirements in order to obtain sponsorship for your visa application.
The University of Surrey’s English language requirement is:
- a minimum of IELTS 6.5 overall, with at least 6.0 in each of the components (reading, writing, listening and speaking), or
- at least CEFR B2, but ideally C1 (evidenced by a formal English language certificate or an assessment of your four skills by your home institution's languages department), or the equivalent
These are the main English language qualifications we accept, but we will also consider other evidence from prospective trainees.
Test and Linguistic Support
Once a traineeship has been agreed with Surrey and before your departure, your sending institution should ask you to undertake an Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support assessment test (OLS) to make sure you meet the recommended level at Surrey and to identify any linguistic support needed. The results of this test will not prevent you from undertaking the traineeship and the University of Surrey will not see the results, but your sending institution may grant you access to a free online English language course before and during your stay abroad in order to improve your language competency for your mobility abroad. You will be asked to take a final OLS English language assessment on your return to measure your progress.
The University of Surrey does not have a list of Erasmus+ traineeship opportunities in each department, so eligible students will need to research our website and email appropriate academic staff directly.
The best way to identify researchers in your field/s of interest and to find out their contact details is to visit the ‘Research’ and ‘People’ pages on the relevant Surrey faculty or department webpages.
Students interested in a traineeship in the School of Veterinary Medicine should email: email@example.com. However, please note, the Vet School does not have a companion animal clinic, as our students carry out their practical training with private vet practices and we are not able to arrange placements at these for Erasmus+ trainees.
You may email staff at any time of year, but we recommend doing so at least 3 months before your proposed traineeship period as it can take 2 months or more to get sponsorship and a visa, and another month if you need an ATAS Certificate to study certain subjects.
When you email academic staff at Surrey, please provide:
- Your preferred mobility period / approximate dates
- Your official academic transcript of records in English or a certified English translation
- Your CV and your particular research interest/s
- Evidence of your English language proficiency (see section above)
Potential supervisors may wish to arrange an online interview to assess your suitability and discuss project options.
We are unfortunately unable to arrange hospital placements (eg. medical, nursing, midwifery, paramedic science) for Erasmus+ trainees at our local hospitals and we do not have a Medical School at the University of Surrey.
Visas and Immigration
Whether you need a visa will depend on:
1. Your Nationality - whether you are a visa national or non-visa national.
- Visa Nationals - check whether you are a passport-holder of a visa national country here - visa nationals need to obtain a visa before entering the UK.
- Non-Visa Nationals - passport-holders of all other, non-visa national countries (includes among others citizens of EU/EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA) may not require a visa to do a short piece of research in the UK related to their degree course.
- British and Irish passport-holders do not need a visa to do a traineeship in the UK.
2. The Length of your Traineeship - 2-6 months or 6-12 months.
3. The Type of Traineeship - whether will you be undertaking:
- an Erasmus+ work placement (paid or unpaid work experience) or
- an Erasmus+ research/research training placement. A placement of 6 months or less involving a short piece of research or research training related to your degree course overseas is considered 'study' rather than 'work' by the UK government and by the University of Surrey. The government defines a researcher as 'an individual conducting an investigation into a problem or situation, where the intention is to identify facts and/or opinions that will assist in solving the problem or tackling the situation. A researcher may be working independently or as part of a team'.
4. Your Student Status - whether you will be a:
- Current Student, enrolled on a degree course at your higher education institution for the duration of your traineeship or
- Recent Graduate, who will have graduated prior to or during your traineeship and will no longer be enrolled as a student at your home institution.
Length of Traineeship
Type of Traineeship
Student Status at the Time of the Traineeship
Enter the UK as a Visitor – no need to apply for a visa* (applies to Erasmus+ and non-Erasmus+ traineeships)
Current student / recent graduate
Current student / recent graduate
Standard Visitor visa*** (applies to Erasmus+ and non-Erasmus+ traineeships)
Current student / recent graduate
Current student / recent graduate
* Short-term research Visitors don't need a visa but still need to carry supporting documents in your hand luggage when you travel to the UK, including your fully signed Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships (non-Erasmus+ research trainees should carry an equivalent Learning Agreement for Traineeships or Internship Agreement). Check which supporting documents you need to carry by entering: your nationality, 'Study' and '6 months or less' in the gov.uk visa checker.
** The Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa is not available to non-Erasmus+ trainees. Before applying for this visa, Erasmus+ trainees need to:
- Check whether you need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. Depending on the subject area of your degree course and your nationality, postgraduate researchers may need to apply for an ATAS certificate to carry out research in certain sensitive subjects. The processing time for this certificate is at least 20 working days, and can be 30 or more working days in the busiest period between April - September, so you should apply 4 months before your traineeship start date.
- Make sure you have a fully completed and signed Erasmus+ learning agreement and acceptance letter from your Surrey supervisor, as well as your university transcript of records in English or a stamped and certified translation.
- Apply to the British Council through your sending institution's Erasmus+ coordinator for visa sponsorship i.e. a Certificate of Sponsorship or 'CoS'. This can take up to 5 weeks.
- Once you have received an email from the British Council with your CoS reference number, you can apply online for the Temporary Work visa and pay the visa fee. Visa processing time around 3-4 weeks.
*** Standard Visitor visa applicants will need to pay a visa fee and attend an appointment at your nearest visa application centre to provide your photo, fingerprints and supporting documents, including evidence that you can support yourself financially during your stay.
Finalising Your Erasmus+ Traineeship
Once a Surrey academic has agreed to supervise your work and you have identified a suitable project or work plan, the Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships form needs to be completed (email firstname.lastname@example.org for a form prefilled with the University of Surrey's details). This is effectively the contract between you, your Erasmus+ office and the University of Surrey.
If required by your sending institution, your Surrey supervisor will first complete a Confirmation of Intent or Acceptance Form to support your application for one of your home institution's Erasmus+ traineeship grants, but we will not sign general letters of intent or set up inter-institutional agreements to host trainees on an individual or ongoing basis.
The traineeship agreement should outline:
- The practical details such as the main contact details, the hours of work, and the start and end dates, the student's English language level
- The aims and nature of the work or research and the learning outcomes
- How the traineeship will be recognised by the home institution
- Details of any pay or payment in kind
- Who is providing insurance cover.
For general guidance on how to complete the traineeship agreement, see here.
The process for completing the agreement is as follows:
1. The sending institution or student completes the student's details and their Erasmus+ Office's contact details, followed by Table A (including the student's English language level, how the traineeship will be recognised and whether insurance will be provided) before sending the traineeship agreement (in Word format) to the Surrey supervisor.
2. The Surrey supervisor completes the Surrey Erasmus+ office and Mentor contact details (a Surrey academic department colleague, not the Surrey supervisor themselves), followed by Table B, which they complete in consultation with the student and their home academic department. This includes: the indicative start and end dates, research project title/area of work, working hours per week, the nature of the work and learning outcomes, any pay or payment in kind, any insurance provided by Surrey if the sending institution is not providing it). The Surrey supervisor signs and dates the agreement.
- If the trainee will be doing research or research training of 6 months or less relating to their degree course overseas, the terms ‘research’ and ‘researcher’, instead of ‘work placement’ or ‘traineeship’, should be used on the Erasmus+ Learning Agreement, the invitation letter from the host institution and any other documents that accompany the mobility. Also, the traineeship title and details on the invitation letter should match those on the learning agreement.
- Surrey can only provide certain insurance cover and only if the sending institution has indicated it isn't providing it.
3. The Surrey supervisor emails a signed pdf copy to the student or their sending institution's Erasmus+ office for their approval and countersignature.
4. The sending institution emails a fully signed and dated pdf copy of the traineeship agreement to the student, the Surrey supervisor and to Surrey's International Engagement Office email@example.com for their records.
If your sending institution has indicated in Table B of the Learning Agreement that it WILL provide accident and public liability insurance cover for you whilst you are at Surrey, the University of Surrey will NOT provide insurance cover.
If the sending institution has indicated that it will NOT provide cover, Surrey WILL provide:
- Accident insurance in the workplace – but NOT for accidents during travels made for work purposes or for accidents on the way to work and back from work. Trainees must therefore take out their own travel and accident insurance and email a copy of their insurance document to their Surrey supervisor, copied to firstname.lastname@example.org, prior to their arrival at Surrey.
- Public liability insurance, but not personal liability insurance.
The University does not provide travel insurance or medical or healthcare cover for visiting staff or students.
Prior to departure, your sending institution should provide you with:
- The Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships regarding the specific programme for the traineeship, approved by you, your sending institution and the University of Surrey – see above.
- A grant agreement covering the mobility period, stating your grant rate (the monthly amount of money you will receive), and signed between you and your sending institution.
- The Erasmus+ Student Charter which sets out your rights and obligations with respect to your period of research/training/work experience abroad.
Preparing for Your Stay
If you require a Standard Visitor visa, carefully read the visa details and requirements, and then complete the online application, paying your fee and uploading your supporting documents. The visa processing time is around 3 weeks.
Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange Visa
If you need a Temporary Work visa, you must first check if you require an ATAS certificate, then get visa sponsorship from the British Council and then apply for your Temporary Work visa - see sections below.
Once your Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships has been finalised, you have received an acceptance letter from your Surrey supervisor and you have checked whether you need an ATAS certificate, your sending institution coordinator must submit an application on your behalf to the British Council for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
There is no application fee for the CoS. Your coordinator can apply up to 3 months before the traineeship start date. The processing time is up to 5 weeks (the busiest time is March-September), so you will need to allow plenty of time and set a realistic start date for the traineeship.
Please read the Temporary Worker (GAE) Certificate of Sponsorship handbook carefully for details of the CoS application process and the documents required. For more detailed guidance, coordinators and students should read the Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange Scheme (GAE) Guidance for Erasmus+ (Higher Education) Coordinators to avoid delays and ensure the smooth processing of your CoS.
In summary, the sending institution coordinator completes the CoS application form (the link is in the handbook) and emails it to the British Council Temporary Work (GAE) team, together with a number of supporting documents, including amongst others:
- the final, fully signed Erasmus+ Learning Agreement for Traineeships
- a confirmation letter from the sending institution confirming the trainee's degree and total Erasmus+ grant
- a formal acceptance letter from the host organisation, on headed paper, with the university stamp, giving full details of the placement (see FAQ below for important details)
- the trainee's transcript of records from their degree course, in English (or an official, certified English translation)
- a copy of the trainee's passport photo page and any pages with visa stamps (the passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the placement end date).
When you have received an email with your CoS number, you can apply online for your Temporary Work visa, entering the CoS number on your visa application form.
For students who need a Temporary Work visa for their Erasmus+ traineeship, the host supervisor at Surrey must provide an acceptance letter to the sending institution coordinator to use in their visa sponsorship (CoS) application to the British Council.
The letter from the host department:
- needs to be on letter headed paper with an official stamp, signed and dated by the appropriate signatory (the Surrey supervisor).
- must contain the participant’s traineeship title during the placement - this should be exactly the same as that given on the Learning Agreement!
- must contain a description of duties the participant will undertake during the work placement or research placement, as given on the learning agreement.
- must contain the start and end dates of the placement.
- must contain the sentence: 'I, the undersigned, confirm that this [work placement / research mobility] is supernumerary, i.e. it is not part of normal staffing requirements and not filling a job vacancy'.
Once you have received a CoS number from the British Council, you must apply online within 3 months for a Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa.
You will need to provide some supporting documents, and students from some countries will need to book an appointment at their nearest UK visa application centre to have their fingerprints and photo taken as part of their application. Once approved, you will get a visa vignette in your passport.
Students can apply for their visa up to 3 months before the start of the traineeship. Visa processing time: up to 4 weeks. Visa fee: around GB£189 for EU/EEA nationals and one or two others such as Turkey; GB£244 for others.
Students from some countries, doing traineeships of more than 6 months, will also need to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application. This provides emergency NHS medical cover, but students will also need to purchase travel insurance with some additional health cover (some sending institutions provide this). Check here whether you need to pay the health surcharge and how much.
Once you have arrived at Surrey, students with a Temporary Work visa will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the central Guildford post office within 10 days of when you indicated you would arrive in the UK.
The University of Surrey does not provide travel, health or medical insurance for incoming Erasmus+ trainees.
You will need to check whether your country is issuing European health insurance cards (EHIC) for its nationals travelling to the UK after 2020 - check here.
Even with an EHIC, for stays of 6 months or less, you will need to take out travel insurance with some health cover before coming to Surrey as the EHIC doesn't cover everything.
For stays of more than 6 months, students from some countries will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge with their Temporary Work visa application. This covers essential and emergency medical treatment in public National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, clinics or GPs (doctors surgeries). Check here how much you need to pay for the health surcharge, if anything.
The health surcharge does not provide comprehensive health cover (e.g. it does not include prescriptions, dental care, sight tests or glasses). You may therefore need to take out some health cover with your travel insurance before coming to Surrey (unless these are provided by your sending institution).
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you will need appropriate medical insurance and to ensure you bring at least a month's supply of any medicine you need. We recommend you fix an appointment with your nearest doctors' surgery (also called a 'GP') in your first week at Surrey.
Some healthcare is provided for free on the UK's National Health Service (NHS) - this includes initial emergency hospital treatment (but not ongoing treatment or repatriation), family planning, and treatment for sexually transmitted and some highly contagious diseases (including initial treatment for Covid-19).
The University has a health centre on campus and there are several local doctors' surgeries ('GPs') near the main campus where students can phone and book an appointment. Trainees who have paid the health surcharge should register at their nearest GP on arrival in the UK. Trainees staying for 6 months or less may book an appointment to see a doctor or nurse as a temporary patient if they need to - there will normally be a small charge which you may be able to reclaim in your country if you have a European health insurance card, on presentation of any receipts.
Current students doing research at Surrey for up to 6 months will be considered to be studying. Any students doing research at Surrey for 6-12 months will be considered to be working.
Trainees doing work placements at Surrey (paid or unpaid) will be considered to be working, rather than studying.
All students, except recent graduates, will still have student status at your sending institution.
Both trainees doing research and those doing work placements will be registered by your department with your faculty’s Human Resources team rather than on the Surrey student records system. You will therefore not have a student number, nor Students’ Union membership or automatic access to University accommodation.
University accommodation can normally only be rented for the whole semester and is typically full during teaching periods. We would therefore encourage students doing a short traineeship to come, if possible, during the summer break (late June – early September) when there may be some rooms available at the University and there is more choice in the private sector. University rooms for the summer break can be booked from late April.
As Erasmus+ trainees are considered unpaid staff rather than students at Surrey, if you are interested in university accommodation and there is availability, you will be placed in an appropriate flat and pay our Short-Term Single Bedroom rates - see page 2 of our accommodation price list. We have different price bands to suit different budgets.
To request university accommodation, you will not be able to use the online application form as it requires a Surrey student number. Instead, please email the International Engagement Office (IEO) on email@example.com with your price band preferences, in preference order, together with your mobile phone number. The IEO will enquire about availability for you.
NB. University rooms must be vacated by early September, when the residences are closed for cleaning, so if you need to stay longer, you will probably need to move to a local guest house or bed & breakfast for the last part of your stay.
NB. Erasmus+ trainees are not eligible for university Guest accommodation, as this can only be rented for a period of up to 28 days and Erasmus+ traineeships are for a minimum of two months.
Most trainees, particularly those coming during semester time, will need to look for either
- a room in the central Guildford YMCA on Bridge Street (they offer a very reasonable deal including wifi, and breakfast and dinner in their restaurant - stays can be from 2-12 months, depending on availability)
- lodgings in a property with a resident landlord (this can be for just a couple of months)
- a room in a private house share or a flat rental (6- or 12-month contracts)
For advice on renting in the private sector and a list of local letting agents and online newspapers with property sections, see our University of Surrey Lettings webpage.
Your Arrival at Surrey
Your Surrey supervisor will give you a full introduction at the start of your traineeship to your academic department and the facilities you will be using. Make sure you email your supervisor in good time to agree your start date and get an induction programme for your first few days at the University.
We recommend you build in an hour in your first day or two for a more general half-hour orientation by the International Engagement Office - email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to book a suitable time.
We also recommend you book yourself onto one of our free campus tours to familiarise yourself with our wider facilities and the layout of the campus - these tend to be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-2.30pm - or watch our virtual campus tour.
Students with a Temporary Worker visa must collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of the date you said you would arrive at the University of Surrey. You must collect it from the central Guildford post office. Be sure to take your passport and visa.
Just before or after arriving at Surrey, trainees need to complete a Miscellaneous account request form in order to get a Surrey IT/email account and a visiting researcher campus card. The campus card gives you access to the library and its resources, as well as to certain academic buildings. The form will need to be signed by a senior member of staff from your Surrey department, then emailed to email@example.com or taken to the IT Helpdesk at the 1st floor entrance to the Library.
IT Services will create an IT account for you which will migrate through to the Library management system. Once you have received email confirmation of your membership number from IT Services, you should visit the Library to have your photo taken and a campus card issued.
Depending on your mobility dates and availability of places, you may be able to access one or two of the University of Surrey's free English Language Support Programme classes. These tend to be delivered towards the start of each semester (early October/early February) and last between 4-9 weeks. If you are arriving at the start of semester and would be interested in taking one or more of these, please contact the International Engagement Office firstname.lastname@example.org before or just after your arrival.
NB. Due to the Covid-19 situation all English language classes are currently online.
The University’s International Engagement Office (IEO) organises a number of social and cultural activities for our group of incoming Erasmus+ Study, International Exchange and Study Abroad students during both semesters (e.g. visits to historic properties and towns, bowling, ice-skating, quiz night, etc). Erasmus+ trainees are welcome to take part in these.
The Exchange and Study Abroad students also have a Facebook page where they arrange their own social activities, visits and trips.
If you would like to take part in the IEO-organised activities or to join the current Facebook group, just drop the International Engagement team email@example.com an email to register your interest.