Is This The Oldest Student To Ever Go On Erasmus?

We can all learn from Miguel's new outlook on life

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Lifelong learning is gaining traction in a lot of countries, and Malta is no exception. But this year's mascot is definitely Miguel Castillo, from Spain.

The 80-year-old from Valencia will be embarking on a new opportunity next week. He will be traveling to Verona, in Italy, to complete his university studies under the Erasmus Programme, a popular student exchange programme set up by the European Union for students. Miguel is married with three children and six grandchildren, and has been making news internationally on El Espanol, Quotidiano and EFE to mention but a few.

Europe's ageing population is increasing every year, and concentrating on youths and skills for employment may not be the best approach in facing the current challenges of demographic change. 19.2% of the EU-28’s population in 2016 comprised of older persons of 65 years or older.

Despite having taken a different path in life, Miguel had never let go of his interest in history and chose to study it at the University of Valencia after having suffered a heart attack shortly after retiring as a notary. He says he has a new lease on life after undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery.

“Shortly after recovering, I said to myself: ‘I would like to do something that isn’t typical of a retiree. History always interested me, I’m interested in all of it, particularly contemporary subjects,” Castillo told Spanish news agency EFE.

Miguel had no doubts about his age in comparison to his course mates and says he feels like one of the other students. “The treatment I get is excellent, age is not a problem.”

“To people who are my age, I urge them not to stay at home and to instead open themselves up to the world, because we can still give a lot to society and we can get a lot in return,” he added.

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The European Union’s Erasmus Programme is the world’s most successful student mobility programme which began back in 1987. It is estimated to have provided nearly 9 million people the opportunity to study or undergo training abroad since its inception, and involves many of the best universities and seats of learning on the continent. 

Erasmus encourages young people to participate in democratic life and provides stronger support for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds or with fewer opportunities.

Students often find this experience highly enriching and return with a more open-minded perspective on our globalised world. It enhances their skills, employability and intercultural awareness. Some even learn how to speak a new language!

These grants aide cross-border cooperation between states to foster growth, and help schools, universities, youth organisations and public authorities to work together, stimulating innovation, creativity and improving job prospects.

The UK’s Brexit decision may see leading universities pulling out of the scholarship scheme, however the British Government has stated its intention on pushing for continued involvement.

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Tag someone who's studied or trained abroad with Erasmus!

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