Education Scotland: New campaign launched to ensure ministers finally deliver Scotland's replacement for Erasmus+

A petition has been launched by the European Movement in Scotland ahead of a series of events

A new campaign has been launched to ensure young Scots can benefit from a scheme to replace the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

The European Movement in Scotland has started a petition and is planning a series of events to support its “Unlock Erasmus” initiative. The Scottish Government has been under pressure to finally deliver on promises to replace the programme, which the UK walked away from after Brexit.

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Last week, higher education minister Graeme Dey told MSPs he anticipated a pilot programme could get under way during this financial year. His remarks were welcomed by Sir Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, who said: “Really pleased to see this statement from Graeme Dey setting out the imminent launch of a pilot project which might lead to an Erasmus+ replacement for Scotland.

Campaigners launch the Unlock Erasmus initiative in Glasgow.  Image: Kelsey Craig PhotographyCampaigners launch the Unlock Erasmus initiative in Glasgow.  Image: Kelsey Craig Photography
Campaigners launch the Unlock Erasmus initiative in Glasgow. Image: Kelsey Craig Photography

"We at the University of Glasgow would certainly welcome this.”

The European Movement in Scotland, a cross-party campaign group aiming to see Scotland return to the EU, said it would be holding the minister’s “feet to the fire” over the promise.

Between 2014 and 2020, €141 million (£121m) was awarded to 1,000 projects in Scotland, enabling more than 2,200 university students and 200 higher education staff from Scotland to participate in Erasmus+ annually.

After Brexit, the UK Government turned down an opportunity to stay in the programme, opting instead to create its own “Turing” scheme, which launched in 2021.

However, the Scottish Government criticised the Turing programme as “a lesser imitation of the real thing”, and pledged to explore how it could stay in Erasmus+.

In the meantime, the SNP’s 2021 election manifesto pledged to “create a Scottish programme of exchange to provide mobility and co-operation opportunities”.

David Clarke, the chair of the European Movement in Scotland, said: “We are consistently told by politicians that there is nothing more important than our young people and their education.

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"But as long as there’s no well-funded, well organised framework to replicate Erasmus for young people in Scotland, they will continue to miss out on a vital part of their education and experience – they are the biggest losers of Brexit.”

The Welsh government has moved more quickly than Scotland, unveiling and launching its own replacement scheme for Erasmus+ last year, leading to claims the Scottish Government is falling behind Wales.

Klajdi Selimi, president of the Young European Movement, said: “The UK’s needless decision to withdraw from the Erasmus+ programme has had a detrimental impact on opportunities for young people across the UK, not least in Scotland.

"Scotland has a proud tradition of educating young people across the world and should be encouraged to rekindle its links with European institutions to reopen the door to free movement of students.

"It is essential that young people in Scotland make their voices heard and work to repair the damage inflicting by the Brexit government dictating terms to the people of Scotland.”

Last week, Mr Dey told Holyrood’s education committee: "What I would anticipate us doing in the next while is to launch a pilot project, in conjunction with the sectors I have mentioned, and then take it from there. I would anticipate it would be in this financial year.”



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