ERACOL (Erasmus-Columbus 2013) is intended to achieve mutual enrichment and better understanding between the EU and Latin-American countries. Its major objectives are:

  • To create excellently trained graduates in the health sciences at undergraduate, Master’s, doctorate and post-doctorate levels – graduates who can confront local and regional public health problems, and can keep pace with health developments worldwide.
  • To achieve sustained improvement in knowledge, teaching and research skills in the public-health sciences in Third countries.
  • To enhance transnational research potential for addressing local, regional and global public health challenges – research with a strong social commitment that enhances the value of previous EU-funded projects.
  • To increase participation by the most disadvantaged groups of Third countries, whose public health needs will be included on the agenda for the development and implementation of research and interventions in the health sciences.
  • To forge lasting links not only between the European and Latin-American partner universities, but also between and within the EU and Latin-America.
  • To improve participants’ language and cultural skills, thereby promoting wider mutual enrichment and understanding between the peoples involved.

Fields of study

The project covers the following thematic fields of study:

  • Education, Teacher Training
    (05- Teacher training, Vocational and Technical Education, Adult Education)
  • Mathematics, Informatics
    (11 – Statistics, Informatics, Computer Sciences, others)
  • Medical Sciences
    (12 – Medicine, Psychiatry, Public Health, Medical Technology)
  • Natural Sciences
    (13 – Biology)
  • Social Sciences
    (14 – Sociology, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Development Studies, International Studies)

The particular focus within these areas is to improve health and healthcare, and to reduce socio-economic inequalities. Teaching and research topics include topics of particular relevance to international health and the health situation in the Latin-American countries involved. They include clinical management; socio-economic differences in health and access to care; infectious-disease management and tropical medicine; sexually transmitted diseases; occupational and behavioural health-risk factors, the genetic and environmental determinants of health (such as dementia, glaucoma, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, myopia, neuropsychiatric diseases, pediatric diseases, and chronic respiratory diseases); and a reduction in the number of deaths caused by preventable factors.

Thematic needs

ERACOL addresses the thematic fields of Education, Mathematics, Health Sciences, Natural and Social Sciences, all of which are centred on health and public health. The programmes provided by the consortium give participants top-level training that prepares them for careers in clinical, biomedical, public-health or applied research. Such studies enable them to confront the challenges in the natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences, and policy sector that face them – and the world – both now and in the future. As most health threats have a significant international dimension, this international perspective is of enormous importance.

We pay special attention to equal opportunities, gender balance and social equity, all of which are important criteria in the selection mechanism. Socio-economic differences in health are important topics in the educational and research topics included in the programme. For people with low socio-economic resources, health is just one of their worries, as it is often compounded by a lack of financial means and health knowledge. Improving the health of these populations stimulates social participation, open opportunities to pursue different careers, generates more equal chances, and improves social equity.

ERACOL has specified a number of measures and agreements to prevent brain-drain. Firstly, in order to obtain a degree, participants should comply with the three following requirements, which they will acknowledge in a written agreement prior to participating in a study, training, or research programme abroad:

  1. to commit themselves to the specific period of study, training or research abroad,
  2. to successfully complete the course or programmes agreed, and
  3. to return to their home countries after this period.

While it is possible for participants to receive a double title, they will receive the title from their university of origin only when they return to the country in which that university is located.

Secondly, the exchange period envisaged in the project is shorter than the total duration of an undergraduate or post-graduate programme. This ensures that a substantial part of the education or research will be received or conducted upon the participants’ return to their home countries.

Thirdly, the research topics covered in the project are directly relevant to Third Countries’ needs, ensuring that participants return to their home countries with knowledge and skills that ensure they find suitable professional opportunities there.

Finally, all agreements that are made between Third country students and their tutors and academic staff at host universities apply solely to the academic periods offered under the project in question. Any scope for further education or work at the host universities are explicitly excluded.


The planned mobility of 139 persons covers all levels from undergraduates to post-doctorate and staff members, and offers a unique opportunity for all partners to teach and inspire each other. The proposal follows the distribution of the mobility flow stated in the EMECW guidelines:

  • 48 students for the undergraduate programme, being 35% of the total mobility flow
  • 26 students for the master programme, being 19% of the total mobility flow
  • 36 students for the doctorate programme, being 26% of the total mobility flow
  • 14 students for the post-doctorate programme, being 10% of the total mobility flow
  • 15 teachers for the staff programme, being 11% of the total mobility flow

Most mobility from Latin-America to Europe involves the training of students at undergraduate, Master’s and PhD levels. Staff mobility focuses mainly on teacher-raining and faculty-building between the various institutions.

A special characteristic of this project is the focus on students from vulnerable groups (Target group 3, defined either by socio-economic indicators, gender, physical disability or ethnic backgrounds), who are currently underrepresented in Latin-American institutions for higher education, and therefore represent tremendous untapped potential in Latin America. The proposal includes the mobility of 38 students from vulnerable groups (27% of total mobility). Students from these groups are being selected on the basis of a list of criteria which is subject to be defined by the partners in the consortium agreement, and are particularly encouraged to participate in the mobility schemes. A substantial number of the research and intervention projects envisaged also focus on improving the health and living circumstances of these vulnerable populations.

Number of Individual Mobility Activities envisaged from 2010-2013

Type of Mobility Europeans Third-Country nationals TOTAL
Target Group 1 Ctry code Target Group 1 Target Group 2 Target Group 3
Undergraduates 13 CO 7 10 48
CR 3 7
PA 3 5
Masters 5 CO 5 3 3 26
CR 3 1 3
PA 1 1 1
Doctorates 10 CO 5 3 5 36
CR 5 2 3
PA 1 1 1
Post-doctorates 8 CO 1 2 0 14
CR 0 2 0
PA 0 1 0
Teaching staff 3 CO 6 0 0 15
CR 3 0 0
PA 3 0 0
TOTAL 39 46 16 38 139

Target group 1: Students and staff of the universities that are members of the partnership

Target group 2: Nationals of Third countries not registered at a university that is a member of the partnership, but fulfils eligibility criteria

Target group 3: Nationals of Third countries who belong to a vulnerable group and fulfil eligibility criteria


University contact

Prof. Albert Hofman, MD, PhD
Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (Erasmus MC)
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Project website:

Contact Europe

Astrid Vrakking, PhD
Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences – NIHES
PO Box 2040
3000 CA Rotterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0) 10 704 3992
Fax: +31 (0) 10 703 8451
E-mail: eracol@erasmusmc.nl

Contact Latin America

Mónica Ortegón, MD, DSc
Universidad del Rosario
Bogotá, Colombia
Phone:+57 (1) 34 745 70
Fax:+57 (1) 31 012 75
E-mail: eracol@urosario.edu.co