Scottish Government under fire for delay to replacement for Erasmus exchange scheme

The Scottish Government has come under fire for delays to plans for a scheme to replace the Erasmus student exchange programme.

The European Movement in Scotland (EMS) has called on the Government to put in place an alternative to Erasmus+, which was scrapped as a result of Brexit.

The EMS said a lack of an exchange programme was “depriving young people of life-changing opportunities”.

After the UK Government turned down an opportunity to stay in Erasmus after Brexit, opting instead to create its own “Turing” scheme, the Scottish Government pledged to develop and implement an equivalent programme alongside their counterparts in Wales. The Welsh Government has already put its £65 million scheme in place, but the Scottish Government has delayed its own indefinitely.

Students from Scotland can no longer take part in the Erasmus exchange programme.

When the UK Government announced the Turing scheme, named after scientist Alan Turing, the Scottish Government condemned it as “a lesser imitation of the real thing” and pledged to explore how it could stay in Erasmus. However, this was blocked by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen early last year.

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The EMS said the delay to the creation of Scotland’s own scheme was damaging for the thousands of young people who wished to enhance their education and training by studying in Europe.

"Those from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or in FE colleges are feeling the biggest impact with targeted funding taken away since the UK left Erasmus+,” the body said.

Mark Lazarowicz, chair of the European Movement in Scotland, added: "The loss of Erasmus+ is an act of cultural vandalism and we must do everything to restore the huge opportunities it gives to students, apprentices and others."

Minister for Higher and Further Education Jamie Hepburn said: “I have been clear that we are opposed to the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from Erasmus+, depriving people from across Scotland of life-changing opportunities for exchange and co-operation. We remain committed to re-joining Erasmus+ and are exploring options for this.

“In the interim, and in recognition of the importance of educational mobility, we are developing a bespoke Scottish Education Exchange Programme.

“This programme will support participants from across Scotland’s education system and help maintain Scotland’s place as an outward looking, internationally connected destination for work and study.

“We are engaging with stakeholders in higher and further education, schools, community learning and development, youth and sports and listening to their views, priorities and requirements for a Scottish Education Exchange Programme.”


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