Brexit deal: UK ‘decided not to stay in Erasmus exchange programme’, EU says

Speaking at a press conference after the deal was agreed, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: “The British government decided not to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme.”

At the press conference on the new deal, Boris Johnson “it was a tough decision” to leave the scheme. 

The Prime Minister stated that the arrangements in place meant that the “UK exchequer lost out” and that it was an “extremely expensive” scheme. 

As a replacement, Mr Johnson has cited the “Turing Scheme”, named after Alan Turing, Mr Johnson says this will give students the opportunities to travel to “the best universities in the world” and not solely universities based in Europe.  

Education and business leaders said in March, at the possibility of dropping out of the programme, that ceasing participation of the programme would effectively blow a hole in the education sector and deprive young people of opportunities.

The Erasmus scheme gives financial support to students within the programme to study abroad for a set amount of time – either a semester or a year – in a participating country. 

Now, students from the UK who want to study within Europe will not be given financial support from the EU, funded by participating states paying in. 

UK students previously received an allowance of €420 per month (£378) from the scheme. 

One University of Surrey student, who previously participated in the Erasmus scheme tells The Independent that “These additional financial barriers [created by the removal of the grant] perpetuate an inequality within education that is imperative to avoid, as students from lower-income brackets may no longer be able to afford the same experience I was so lucky to have”.

The existing Erasmus scheme is thought to be worth around £243m in income a year to the UK economy, and serves around 17,000 British young people.

In 2017, 16,561 UK students participated in the scheme, while 31,727 EU nationals from other countries came to study in Britain under it.

A number of non-EU countries are members of the Erasmus scheme, including Iceland, Turkey, Norway, and Serbia.

Universities UK says funding is still in place to the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December and that “In effect, this means staff and students can complete mobility periods and receive funding up until the end of the 2021-22 academic year.” However, staff and students involved will still have to deal with whatever new immigration restrictions are imposed on the UK.

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