Scottish ministers seeking Erasmus successor in event of no-deal Brexit

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting on September 17, 2019. Picture: Getty Images
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting on September 17, 2019. Picture: Getty Images
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Scottish Government ministers are seeking answers over a successor to the Erasmus student exchange programme in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government will look at "successor schemes" if UK students are barred from the EU-funded scheme.

However, the Scottish Government is seeking further details on such a successor - and the three-year "leave to remain" policy which they say does not guarantee international students finishing four-year courses north of the border.

Scottish Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead is set to raise the issues with UK Minister of State for Universities Chris Skidmore in London on Monday.

Ahead of the meeting, he raised concerns that Scotland could miss out on funding currently under consideration for English students in the short-term after Britain's exit from the EU on October 31.

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Mr Lochhead said: "Clearly our position is to remain a member of the EU with full access to Erasmus, but if a no-deal Brexit happens it could spell disaster for students.

"We benefit from EU students coming here to learn and from Scottish students studying or training abroad, and we must remain a full participant of the Erasmus+ programme.

"The UK Government is considering a short-term contingency arrangement of financial support for English students to travel abroad, with potentially no funding for Scotland, and we need assurances that Scottish students won't miss out.

"The UK Government's planned three-year 'leave to remain' policy puts Scotland at a competitive disadvantage as the majority of degrees are four years.

"The Secretary of State for Education has said he will find a 'solution' to this, so it's imperative this happens soon.

"With just five weeks until the planned EU exit, I want to have constructive dialogue with my UK counterparts to develop solutions that work for Scotland, our students, and our world class universities."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The UK is a world leader in science, education and research, and this will only enhance after Brexit.

"We highly value international exchange and co-operation in education and training within Europe and around the world.

"The department is open to participation in the next Erasmus+ programme and has committed to cover funding for successful Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps bids until the end of the programme in 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

"We continue to prepare for a range of potential outcomes."