Scotland and Wales in joint stand on EU Erasmus student scheme

The Scottish Government will seek to continue the country's involvement in the EU's Erasmus+ scheme despite Brexit, it has been announced.

Scotland will seek to rejoin Erasmus
Scotland will seek to rejoin Erasmus

A joint statement unveiled by Scotland's universities minister Richard Lochhead and his counterpart in the Welsh Government, Kirsty Williams, says the decision to withdraw from the scheme will cut opportunities for learners and hit deprived communities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously claimed that Brexit posed no threat to the Erasmus+ scheme, which allows EU students to study in other member states.

But UK ministers later decided it was too expensive and have proposed a more limited, but global alternative called the Turing Scheme.

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The joint statement from Holyrood and Cardiff issued on Tuesday says the Scottish and Welsh governments will "explore how both countries can continue to enjoy the benefits" offered by Erasmus+.

"Our participation in Erasmus+ has helped transform the lives of thousands of our students, schoolchildren, teachers, adult learners and young people, from all across the UK," the statement says.

"In Scotland proportionally more participants have gone abroad through Erasmus+ than from anywhere else in the UK, while proportionally more visitors from the rest of Europe have visited Scotland in return."

The exchange programme has been shown to increase self-confidence of participants, as well as cultural awareness, second-language learning ability, and employability.

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The Turing Scheme now being proposed by UK ministers, named after code-breaker Alan Turing, was branded a "lesser imitation of the real thing”.

"The Turing Scheme, funded at £105 million for one year, pales in comparison to Erasmus+, which has now had its budget for the next seven years increased to €26.2 billion [£23.2bn]."

Following the expiry of the Brexit transition at the start of this year, Scotland, England and Wales will no longer participate in Erasmus, but Northern Ireland's access will continue.

The statement adds: "We have been heartened by the outpouring of support from across Europe for our continued participation in Erasmus+.

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"This is something that Wales, Scotland, and Europe all want – the UK Government stands isolated in its opposition. We want the whole of the UK to stay, but we will now explore how Scotland and Wales can continue to enjoy the benefits offered by Erasmus+."

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