A HIGHER proportion of students in Scotland are choosing to study or work abroad compared with those in other parts of the UK, new figures reveal.
More than one in ten (13 per cent) of UK students on the European Union’s flagship exchange programme Erasmus hail from Scottish higher education institutions, despite those institutions accounting for only 8.5 per cent of the UK’s total student population.
Institutions in England represent 84 per cent of the overall student population but sent out 79 per cent of students on the scheme in the year 2012-13, according to Erasmus figures.
Welsh institutions accounted for 5 per cent of UK students on the exchange, equating to the country’s student population share, while 3 per cent of Erasmus students came from higher education institutions in Northern Ireland, compared with its student population share of 2 per cent.
University of Edinburgh was the Scottish institution with the highest number of students taking part (356), followed by University of Glasgow (290) and University of Strathclyde (277).
Ruth Sinclair-Jones, the British Council’s head of EU programmes, said “The international experience offered through Erasmus has been shown to make a real difference in terms of people’s employability.
“So while students in Scotland deserve praise for reaching out and looking to gain highly sought-after international skills, it is a concern that students in England and Wales are beginning to slip behind.
“The UK overall is only sixth in terms of total students participating in Erasmus; we lag far behind France, Germany and Spain, who have almost three times as many young people gaining vital skills we all need to compete in a global market.”
Erasmus offers students a chance to spend up to a year studying or working at another institution in the EU, with the majority of costs covered.