The Case Study of the ERASMUS Programme in Latvia: Stereotypes and European Identity

Master's Thesis, 2010

77 Pages, Grade: B+


Table of contents


Charter 1: Literature Review
1.1.2.Collective vs. Individual Identity
1.2.Coneept of European Identity
1.2.1.Limitations of coneept
1.2.2.Politieal vs. Cultural Identity
1.2.3.National vs. European Identity
1.3.1.Stereotypes vs. Prejudiees
1.3.3.Heterostereotypes vs. Autostereotypes

Charter 2: Methodological Framework.,
2.1.Survey Methodology
2.2.Questionnaire Design
2.3.1.A Socio-Demographie Data

Charter 3: Analysis of Survey
3.1.A Socio-Demographie Data






A Socio-Demographie Data
Analysis of indexes
Annex 4




The European Commission and scholars emphasize that the ERASMUS programme is a successful example of European integration, a symbol of construction of European identity and promoter of tolerance on the basis of breaking stereotypes, encouraging multicultural experience and intercultural education. But because of the lack of empirical findings, this Master thesis has been devoted to research of the impact of the ERASMUS programme on breaking the stereotypes and fostering European identity. The quantitative survey of three hundred thirty former ERASMUS, potential ERASMUS and non-ERASMUS students provides partly justification that the ERASMUS Programme has impact on breaking the stereotypes and promoting European identity. Potential ERASMUS students already have less stereotypes and European self-identification than non-mobile students, therefore the ERASMUS programme is rather catalyst than promoter of European identity and stereotype- breaker.

Key words: the ERASMUS programme, European identity, stereotypes.


I would like to thank my supervisor Prof. Janos Kis for suggested literature and Prof. Tamas Rudas and Prof. Levente Littvay for helpful remarks and suggestions for design of the questionnaire, survey methodology and analysis in SPSS.

The research for this MA thesis was financed by Central European University Foundation, Budapest (the stipend serial number: BPF /565/200910/T) which I gratefully acknowledge.


“Bringing students to Europe, bringingEurope to students... ”

Motto of the ERASMUS Programme

Today the ERASMUS Programme is described as one of the symbols of the construction of the European identity and one of the most successful examples of promoting European integration. Furthermore, the motto of the ERASMUS Programme exemplifies it: “bringing students to Europe, bringing Europe to all students” (Nelson & Neack, 2002: 207 in Oborune, 2009). The programme also contributes to “an ever-closer Union among the peoples ofEurope” and highlights the motto ofEU: “unity in diversity”. (Oborune, 2009)

Many political scientists have expressed the significance of studying the influence of the ERASMUS programme on promotion of European identity. For example, the idea of studying the effect of student mobility on European integration was initiated by Lijphart (Lijphart, 1964: 252) but never implemented. Also nowadays several authors (e.g. Wallace, Jacobs & Maier, Kamphausen, Valentini, Green, Fligstein, Chopin) point to the ERASMUS programmme as a tool for promoting European identity. But, unfortunately, there is a limited number of empirical studies done in this field.

Nevertheless, the emergence of research on the ERASMUS programme in the last years shows the recent interest in studying this field. Corradi (2006) has analyzed the ERASMUS programme in the historical perspective, Sauzet (2008) has focused on the pedagogical evaluation of intercultural learning and stereotypes. Van Mol (2009a, 2009b) and Sigalas (2006, 2009) have both outlined the theoretical framework and researched empirically the impact of the ERASMUS Programme on the European identitification. Sigalas has studied British students who have and who have not participated in the ERASMUS programme, as well students who have studied as ERASMUS students in UK. Contrarily, Van Mol has studied non-mobile, potential mobile, future mobile and mobile students in sixteen countries.

Interestingly, Sigalas came to the conclusion that although it is “widely assumed it plays a pivotal role in the promotion of a European identity”, the ERASMUS programme “does not foster a European self-identity or a sense of European pride”. (Sigalas, 2009: 1) Both Sigalas (2009) and Van Mol (2009b) conclude that European identity feeling is already present before participation in the ERASMUS programme. I have previously studied the ERASMUS Programme as promoter of tolerance (Oborune, 2008; Oborune, 2009) but in this research I have decided to study if Sigalas’s and Van Mol’s conclusion can be proved also in the case of Latvia. Therefore, I have proposed following thesis statement: the ERASMUS Programme does not have an impact on promotion of European identity and breaking stereotypes in students of Latvia who have participated in the ERASMUS Programme.

The research problem of this Master thesis is, whether the ERASMUS porgramme has impact on stereotypes and European identity. The objective of the present thesis is to analyze the European self-identification and to research stereotypes of students of Latvia who have participated/have applied/have not participated in the ERASMUS Programme. To achieve this objective, the following tasks have been drafted: first, to operationalize concepts of “identity”, “European identity”, “stereotypes” and “prejudices” using Adcock-Collier’s model of background concept, systematized concept, indicators and scores; second, to develop appopriate methodology and measurement; third, to conduct a survey of students of Latvia.

In the empirical part I have taken into account the limitations of methodological frameworks of previous researches. For example, Sigalas points to three studies about the ERASMUS Programme as promoter of European identity done by Stroebe et al. (1988), Kramer-Byrne (2002) and King & Ruiz-Gelices (2003) but to Sigalas’s mind all these researches suffer from some methodological limitations - either unrepresentative sample, or use retrospective rather than longitudinal assessment, or there were studied only ERASMUS students and they were not compared with non-ERASMUS students.

There was held a quantitative survey of non-mobile, potential-future mobile students {treatment group) and mobile students {control group). Overall, three hundred thirty students were surveyed. Survey was designed to meet two tasks: first, to examine the impact of the ERASMUS programme on stereotypes, and second, to determine whether the ERASMUS programme had impact on the promotion of European identity. The questionnaire consists of five indexes, characteristics and a socio-demographic data.

The Master thesis is divided into three parts. Chapter 1 provides a literature review for the concepts of “European identity” and concepts of “stereotypes” and “prejudices” where the background and systematized concepts are distinguished. Chapter 2 explains the methodological framework used in the study, justifies the use of quantitative research as well as justifies the used technique of measurement. Chapter 3 is devoted to analysis of the survey and followed by discussion and conclusion part.

The literature and sources of this Master thesis can be conditionally divided into three parts. First, studies of scholars Tajfel, Valentini, Zagar etc. which were used in defining the concept of “identity”. Second, there were implemented an analysis of the concept of “European identity” using literature written by such scholars as Bruter, Van Mol, Fuchs, Oner etc. Finally, there were used viewpoints ofMakonnen, Allport, Pettigrew and Tropp etc. about the distinction between concept of “stereotypes” and “prejudices”. One hundred eleven sources were used in the following languages: English, Latvian, and German.

Chapter 1: Literature Review

Adcock and Collier (2001) in their paper “Measurement validity: a shared standard for qualitative and quantitative research ” have developed a model of conceptualization and operationalization on four levels. They include namely: first, the level of background concept, second, systematized concept, third, indicators or measures and, fourth, the level of scores and classifications.

The first level is to understand the background concept and in my research the background concepts are “identity”, “European identity”, “stereotypes” and “prejudices” (see chapters 1.1. “Identity” and 1.3.1. “Stereotypes vs. Prejudices”). The use of these concepts can differ in social psychology, sociology and political science, however even within one discipline these concepts can be explained differently. There were observed works written by Valentini, Zagar (concept “identity”), Mackie and Smith, Pettigrew and Zepa et al. (concepts “stereotypes” and “prejudices”).

At the second level I have selected a specific - systematized - definition for my key concepts that I will use in my research. Adcock and Collier emphasize that a researcher must choose and justify the systematized concept (see chapters 1.2. “European identity”, 1.3.2. “Typology”, “Heterostereotypes vs. Autostereotypes”) because the background concept is too contested. (Adcock & Collier, 2001: 532) There were analysed the theoretical approaches and knowledge developed by such scholars as Van Mol, Bruter (concept “European identity”) and Apine (concept “Heterostereotypes vs. Autostereotypes”).

In the second chapter of this Master thesis I have worked with the third and fourth level of Adcock’s and Collier’s approach. I have developed indicators and the level of scores (see chapter 2.3. “Measurement”) using the previous studies held about European identity, ethnic stereotypes and the ERASMUS programme.

1.1 Identity

1.1.1. Typology

Before analyzing the concept of “European identity” I should specify what I mean by concept of “identity”. However, defining and studying “identity” is a difficult task to accomplish. The three main approaches of theorizing the concept of “identity” are following: 1) universalistic (structural) (Habermas); 2) sociological (e.g. Easton, Nisbet, Weber, Giddens) and 3) social-psychological approach (e.g. Turner, Tajfel, Oakes). There is also a distinction between 1) social identity (Tajfel, Williams), 2) cultural identity (Clifford, Hall) and 3) collective identity (Geertz, Habermas).

However, this distinction is debatable and there are different opinions among scholars. For instance, Loukola points out that sociologists distinguish between social, cultural and personal (instead of collective) identity (Loukola, 2005: 113), but Snow argues that there is social, personal and collective identity (Snow, 2001: 1). From the other side, Fearon claims that there is only a distinction between social and personal identity (Fearon, 1999: 2.) Furthermore, Heikinnen thinks that cultural identity is one of the forms of social identity (Heikinnen, 2009: 29).

In contrast, if we talk about European identity, then the main debate among scholars is not about European identity as social, cultural, personal or collective identity but rather if European identity is individual or collective identity (Muller, 2007: 102). I would rather agree with scholars who argue that European identity is collective identity (Hollmann, 2009: 48; Delanty, 2003). To justify my opinion, at first, I will elaborate on the main differences between individual and collective identity and then I will analyze the definitions of concept of “identity”.

1.1.2.Collective vs. Individual Identity

Weeks proposes such definition of individual identity (“Me-feeling”): “what you have in common with some people and what differentiates you from others” (Weeks, 1990: 88). Tajfel defines individual identity in the following way: “part of the individual’s self-concept which derives from knowledge of membership of a social group/s together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership”. (Tajfel, 1981: 255)

Collective identity requires interaction between individuals (“We-feeling”). Valentini provides following definition: “a feeling and belief that one belongs to a specific category determined by common characteristics”, and this feeling and belief should be recognized by other members (Valentini, 2005: 5). Furthemore, I would like to emphasize that collective identity can be analyzed as active or passive element (Baki, 2009: 5). Collective identity as an active element means that we study how does identity as a political tool affect European integration. A passive element means that we study how does identity as a social process change European integration. The ERASMUS programme is both a political tool and a social process therefore in this research both active and passive elements are studied.


There is a vast amount of definitions of the concept of identity. In this part I would like to emphasize one concrete definition. Zagar provides a definition of “identity” which combines elements of individual and collective identity. Zagar’s definition is the following: “identity is the feeling of belonging to a certain entity, defined by different (in the case of collective identities - agreed upon and shared) objective and subjective criteria”. (Zagar, 2001: 2-3) Moreover, as Zagar and other scholars have emphasized, identity (either individual or collective) is not fixed, but can change and transform (Zagar, 2001: 3; Valentini, 2005: 9).

Therefore, identity is a social phenomenon that can be in the process of formation rather than static. Thus identity is a dynamic phenomenon. Moreover, identity is a multidimensional concept and I do agree with scholars that multiple identities do exist (Risse, 2004; Huyst, 2008; Caporaso & Kim, 2009). European identity can be part of such multiple identities together with national identity.

From this discussion of the concept of “identity” I would like to emphasize four aspects. First, despite the fact that there are different approaches of theorizing concept of “identity”, for the purpose of this thesis I prefer distinction between individual and collective identity because this distinction is mainly used in the debate about European identity. Second aspect I would like to emphasize is that in the case of European identity we speak about collective and not about individual identity. Moreover, European identity is part of multiple identities that one can have. Third, identity is a dynamic social phenomenon that can change. Last but not least, the definition of identity I prefer: identity is a feeling of belonging to a specific category determined by common characteristics and recognized by other members. This definition reflects the “collectivity” element that is prescribed to the European identity.

1.2 Concept of European Identity

1.2.1.Limitations of concept

There is a vast amount of literature on the issue of European identity and in the past decades it has become one of the most researchable and highly debatable topics. “Additionaly, in the new member countries the very notion of European identity seems to be more widely discussed than in the old member states”. (Valentini, 2005: 10) Historians, political scientists, sociologists and social psychologists have studied concept of European identity, thus it has become an interdisciplinary field to observe. However, to my mind, because of the latter there are shortcomings in the literature - a lack of in-depth theoretical and empirical analysis taking into account many dimensions and perspectives of this phenomenon.

I agree with Huyst’s argumentation why studying the European identity is a comprehensive task: it is hard to define European identity and to measure it (Huyst, forthcoming: 6; Herrmann and Brewer, 2004). Indeed, defining the concept of European identity is a tough task. Even nowadays there is a debate if European identity does exist (see Kielmansegg, 1996; Offe, 1998). However, I would argue that the European identity exists and there are scholars who agrees with that.

Another failure is that some scholars associate “Europe with European Union (..) which is reflected also in the general definition of the word “European”” (Valentini, 2005: 4). Therefore I agree with Rollis that each of the words in the concept of “European identity” taken individually may be ambigious (Rollis, 2005: 163). Moreover, I disagree with Fokion et al. that “European identity tends to be meaningful only when it is contrasted against anything considered as non-European” (Fokion et al., 2006: 8) because this argument rather separates “European” and “identity” but does not take into account the specific meaning of these words together.

Van Mol points to two approaches for the study of European identity: 1) top-down; and 2) bottom-up approach (Van Mol, 2009a: 9). Top-down approach focuses on what unifies Europeans (e.g. cultural heritage, values) (Bruter, 2005: 5). Bottom-up approach focuses on feelings of Europeans toward Europe. Similarly as Van Mol, also in this study will be used bottom-up approach: the influence of the ERASMUS Programme on individual’s European identity feeling.

Taking into account the discussion of the concept of “identity”, I would agree with Castells that European identity is the set of values and feeling of belonging to a distinctive European entity, for example, European culture (Castells, 2000: 3). However, there are scholars who conclude that European identity is an elite project (Bancks, 2007: 12; Guibernau, 2001: 27). Furthermore, Fuchs argues that “for a further emergence of European identity a stronger political integration of the EU is necessary”. (Fuchs, 2006: 18) Nevertheless, we agree with this opinion or not, I share my point of view with academians who conclude that the creation of European identity is still an ongoing, very difficult, complex andtime consuming process (Oner, 2004: 35; Bakke, 1995: 26; Jasson, 2001: 157).

1.2.2.Political vs. Cultural Identity

Kohli distinguishes four levels of analysis of European identity: 1) constitutional[1]; 2) discursive (political); 3) cultural; 4) individual (Kohli, 2000: 120). Scholars (e.g. Niedermayer and Sinnot, McLaren, Green, Fligstein) and also Eurobarometer use the self­identification - it could be all levels of analysis of European identity except the first. However, I would agree with Madeker that Kohli’s fourth level of analysis - “individual’s feelings of belonging to Europe as a social or political entity” - is the interest of scholars in the most cases (Madeker, 2006: 3).

On the other hand, according to Bruter we can distinguish between political and cultural European identity. Both identities are important for the thesis because the political European identity implies that an individual identifies him/herself with the European Union, but the cultural European identity implies that individual “shares a certain common culture, social similarities, ethics, values and religion.” (Bruter, 2004; 2005; 2008: 279) Interestingly, based on qualitative interviews in Belgium and Spain, Van Mol concludes that students who have participated in the ERASMUS programme refer to cultural European identity, but students who have not taken part in - to political European identity (Van Mol, 2009a: 10). On the contrary, Mondrasse has emphasized that only common cultural European identity does exist (Buzaianu, 2006: 78).

1.2.3. National vs. European Identity

There are three different opinions about the relationship between European and national identity. First point of view is that European and national identity are competing (Fuchs et al., 2009). Therefore some scholars see a strong national identity as the main reason for a week European identity but, on the other hand, there are academians (e.g. Eisenstadt & Giesen, 1995; Risse, 2004) who argue that “the relationship between the two forms of identification is mutually exclusive” (Kaelble, 2009: 207).

Second view is that European and national identities are complementary. For instance, Fossum, Grundy and Jamieson argue that one can have both national and European identity (Fossum, 2001: 375-376; Grundy & Jamieson, 2007). Also other political scientists emphasize that European identity cannot substitute national identity (Laffan, 2008: 98-99; Prisacariu, 2007: 5; Jarve, 2005: 34). Moreover, the project of European identity does not mean the loss of national identity (Muller, 2007: 107). Additionaly, Hedetoft (1994: 19) and Sedlacek (2009) conclude that people who feel a strong European identity could also feel a strong sense of national identity. This conclusion was also drawn by King and Ruiz-Gelices (2003: 247).

The last point of view is that on one hand national and European identity can be seen as complementary but on the other hand - contradictory (Oner, 2004: 34). This is similar argument brought by Smith who distinguishes two levels of debate: at the practical and at the conceptual level (Smith, 1992: 56). He argues that European and national identity are competing with each other at the practical rather than conceptual level. I rather disagree with Smith because to my mind these identities are not competing but rather can exist complementary both on the conceptual and practical level.

Therefore taking into consideration the analysis of the concept of “European identity” above I would like to point to five viewpoints. First, to my mind European identity does exist. However, it is a tough task to study and measure European identity. Second, European identity is a feeling ofbelonging to a distinctive European culture (cultural European identity) and/or European Union (political European identity). Third, bottom-up approach will be used in this research. Fourth, to my mind European and national identities are complementary. Finally, the formation of European identity is a complex project to accomplish.

1.3 Stereotypes

1.3.1. Stereotypes vs. Prejudices

The concepts of “stereotype” and “prejudice” are often used as synonyms. Despite the fact that some scholars note a similarity of the concepts of stereotype and prejudice there are sharp differences. Stereotype is a type of perception, but prejudice is a type of assessment (Oakes et al., 1994: 5, 14 in Oborune, 2009). Mackie and Smith believe that stereotypes include a variety of features, which may relate both to physical features and beliefs, and social roles. Prejudices are defined as a negative assessment of a social group and its members (Mackie & Smith, 1998: 105 in Oborune, 2009).

Makkonen also offers the following relationship between stereotypes and prejudices (see Figure 1 “Interaction between Social Distance, Negative Stereotypes, Prejudices and Negative Feelings”). He defines prejudices as unreasonably formed opinions and feelings caused by lack of knowledge, so in order to combat prejudices; one has to contend with the social distance, stereotypes and negative feelings (Makkonen, 2006: 8-9 in Oborune, 2009). Nevertheless, to my mind it is much harder or even impossible to eliminate prejudices than stereotypes.

Figure 1

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Makkonen in Scheinin & Toivanen (2004: 161-163)

Allport has put forward the inter-group contact hypothesis: the contact with representatives of other groups may reduce the prejudices against this group (Allport in Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000 in Oborune, 2009). This is possible only if representatives are of equal status, have common goals; there is no competition and sanctions (Pettigrew & Tropp in Oskamp, 2000: 93-94 in Oborune, 2009). Pettigrew concludes that the process should consist of four separate stages - “acquisition of information, behaviour change, emotional ties and the formation of a change in attitude”. He also adds that friendship has a very positive impact on bias (Pettigrew, 1998: 65-85 in Oborune, 2009).

Oakes, Haslam and Turner found that stereotypes are not fixed but may vary. These authors conclude that we try to believe that the group to which we belong is better than the group to which we do not (Oakes et al., 1994: 211-212 in Oborune, 2009). Rocaech based his opinion on the hypothesis that people with certain personality characteristics are more conducive to (in)tolerance and stereotyping (stereotype-breaking) than others (Zepa et al., 2004: 78 in Oborune, 2009).

Moreover, Driedger and Clifton emphasize that if one has positive thoughts about his own group, it does not mean that he thinks poorly of other people (Driedger & Clifton in Zepa et al., 2004: 11 in Oborune, 2009). Also Devine argues that tolerant people avoid using stereotypes (Devine in Zepa et al., 2004: 11 in Oborune, 2009). Ray is of the opinion that people use stereotypes in those cases where there is a lack of information (Ray in Zepa et al., 2004: 11 in Oborune, 2009). In this research the concept of “stereotypes” rather than “prejudices” will be used because we cannot get rid of prejudices but we can break stereotypes because they are not fixed and people can avoid using them.

1.3.2. Typology

Scholars distinguish ethnic, racial, religious, age, gender, profession, sexual and sexual orientation stereotypes. In this Master thesis ethnic stereotypes are researched because ethnic identity plays more crucial role in the ERASMUS programme than other identities. However, in the literature about the ERASMUS programme academians rather use “national stereotypes” or “stereotypes based on national identity ” instead of “ethnic stereotypes” (Papatsiba, 2005; Sigalas, 2009; Dervin, 2007). Nevertheless, in this research the concept of “ethnic stereotypes” is used by which also “national stereotypes” are considered. Furthermore, it is more important to study ethnic stereotypes than other stereotypes. As officials and survey results show during the ERASMUS programme students learn about different nations, their cultures and become less ethnocentric (Schutte et al., 2008). From the other side, scholars have emphasized that students not only get rid off but also get new stereotypes, especially toward local residents (Dervin, 2007; Oborune, 2008; Oborune, 2009).

Heterostereotypes vs. Autostereotypes

Apine stresses that stereotypes contribute to the formation of xenophobia. She indicates two subtypes of ethnic stereotypes: heterostereotype (image of another which is always negative) and autostereotype (self-image which is always idealized) (Apine, 2001: 17­18 in Oborune, 2009). Also concerning the concept of “identity” Turner indicates the necessity to distinguish between “us” and “them” (Turner et al., 1987). Furthermore, the assumption of “we-they” derives from the theory of disposition (Makarevics, 2001: 122 in Oborune, 2009) (see Figure 2 “Explanation of Behaviour After Theory of Disposition”). Also Zimmel has similar scale - own, others, strangers (Zimmel in Apine, 2001: 87 in Oborune, 2009).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Makarevics (2001: 122)

There are two types of research that can be conducted to measure heterostereotypes and autostereotypes: 1) value ratings, and 2) characterization. A couple of studies have analyzed value ratings of own group and other group (Feather, 1980; Linder & Bauer, 1983). However, studies where characterization is used are more popular (since Katz & Braly). Therefore the last part of the questionnaire will be devoted to self-characterization and characteristics of other ERASMUS students and local residents (see Chapter 2.3.1. “Characteristics”).

I would like to emphasize three conclusions that could be derived from the analysis of the concept of “stereotypes”. First, in the empirical part I will use concept of “stereotypes” rather than “prejudices” because, as scholars have argued, stereotypes are not fixed but may vary. Second, I will look at ethnic (national) stereotypes because they can emerge/eliminate during the exchange programme. Third, in the questionnaire I will put questions about heterostereotype and autostereotype as suggested by Apine.

Chapter 2: Methodological Framework

Green (2007), Moes (2008), and Huyst (forthcoming) conclude that quantitative approach is more often used to study European identity, especially using the data of Eurobarometer. But Eurobarometer has both advantages and limitations. On one hand, it allows generalizing data, on the other hand, there is criticism of the measurement used in Eurobarometer (Sinnot, 2005; Bruter, 2008). Moreover, questions on European identity are rather questions concerning attachment (to Bruter’s mind attachment is not the same as identity (Bruter, 2008 in Huyst, forthcoming: 10)) and most questions neglect the fact that people can have multiple identities, for example, Bruter argues that national and European identity is in tension in Eurobarometer questions (Bruter, 2008 in Huyst, forthcoming: 10).

Furthermore, Cerutti and Lucarelli (2008) and Bruter (2008) recommend using not only a quantitative but also a qualitative approach in the study of the European identity. There are both advantages and limitations in using the two approaches together. For example, Cropley points to the main weakness of the qualitative research method: it gives far less emphasis to the idea of causation. (Cropley, 2002: 10) At first, I have considered using both approaches, but for this research it is enough to use survey, especially because of time limit.

2.1. SurveyMethodology

The population - students of Latvia who have not participated/have applied to participate/have participated in the ERASMUS programme (2009/2010)[2]. Sample size: 100 non-mobile, 100 future mobile, and 100 mobile students. A questionnaire was sent to the 1) non-mobile students (mainly Bachelor’s degree 3rd year, Master’s degree 1st year and PhDdegree 1st year[3]), 2) future mobile students (who will participate in the ERASMUS programme in the autumn term of the academic year of 2010/2011) and 3) mobile students (students who have participated in the ERASMUS programme in the academic year of 2009/2010). The questionnaire was distributed via e-mail list with the help of BA, MA and PhD coordinators and administrators of the ERASMUS programme or directors of Departments of Foreign Relations in the faculties of universities of Latvia.

I made the decision about sample size based on three factors, namely: 1) time available (April, May), 2) budget and 3) necessary degree of precision. I have chosen the sample size of 300 students because using a large sample does not compensate a bias in sampling. Moreover, increasing the sample from 250 to 1000 only doubles the precision.

I have used simple random sampling in my survey. Simple random sampling is a desirable method of sampling and it means drawing at random without replacement (Hansen et al., 1993: 311). Hansen, Hurwitz and Madow (Ibid: 312) indicate that simple random sampling is the basic probability method (other methods can be more complicated). Random sampling is suitable because it is designed so that each individual in the population will get into the sample with an equal chance (Ibid: 313). Second reason - this method makes solution independent (Rudas, 2009a). Freedman concludes that judgment and choice usually show bias, while chance is impartial (Ibid: 315).

I have chosen internet (online) survey because it is more convenient for respondents to provide answers. I have used because it is convenient for the researcher and analysis of data in SPSS. Moreover, it allows creating questionnaires with more than ten questions and it is cheaper than[4]

Online survey ([5] was conducted in the first week of May and was analysed in the second week of May. The e-mails to coordinators and administrators of the ERASMUS programme or directors of Departments of Foreign Relations were sent on 4th May and the deadline of completing the questionnaire was 10th May 11.59 p.m. There were provided incentives[6] for filling in the questionnaire taking into consideration the previous experience of conducting the online survey in Latvia, France and Switzerland (Oborune, 2008; Oborune, 2009).

In my previous research about the ERASMUS programme I had to gather responses from 100 former ERASMUS students of Latvia (University of Latvia), 100 former ERASMUS students of France (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille) and 100 former ERASMUS students of Switzerland (Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich), who participated in the ERASMUS Programme in the academic years of 2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2008/2009. The first limitation was the time available (two weeks) and the second limitation was the time of holding the survey (July). With this limitation in mind, I took a decision to provide incentives in this research to have a higher response rate and to gather 300 responses from students.


[1] E.g. Declaration on European Identity (1973)

[2] According to the data in Latvia approximately 112 555 students have studied in the academic year of 2009/2010 (Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia: 2009).

[3] The decision was made based on the fact that students cannot take part in the ERASMUS programme if they are going to graduate the university. Therefore sending questionnaires to Bachelor’s 4th year or Master’s 2nd year students would be inappropriate. On the other hand, these students could be an appropriate sample for students who have taken part in the ERASMUS programme. Thus, the additional letter was sent to coordinators of the ERASMUS programme to send online questionnaire to the contact list of former ERASMUS students.

[4] For comparison: USD 15/month ( and USD 19.95/month (

[5] Survey is closed since 1st June 2010

[6] Lottery with the possibility to win three gift cards of Jana Rozes gramatmca in the value of Ls 5

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The Case Study of the ERASMUS Programme in Latvia: Stereotypes and European Identity
Central European University Budapest
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