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How Would Leaving the Erasmus + Scheme Affect Students?

How Would Leaving the Erasmus + Scheme Affect Students main image

On Wednesday January 8, the UK Parliament voted 344- 254 against seeking to negotiate to continue the Erasmus student exchange program after Brexit. Many believe that this implies the program is not an issue that will take priority after Brexit.

The UK House of Commons said on Twitter:

What does the Erasmus + program do?

The Erasmus + program, which stands for European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, is funded by the EU and organizes student exchanges, from three months to a year.

You must be enrolled on a course which leads to a recognized degree or tertiary level qualification, and the Erasmus + scheme means that students studying abroad for a year will only have to pay a maximum of 15 percent of regular UK tuition fees to study in Europe, and will also be able to apply for grants to help with living costs.

According to the Erasmus website, there are currently over 5,000 higher education institutions participating in the Erasmus + program across the world, and 53 percent of UK university students who study abroad do so through the scheme.

So, does this mean that the UK definitely won’t participate in the Erasmus + program?

The Erasmus + program is renewed every seven years, with the next cycle running from 2021 to 2027.

The government vote doesn’t mean that the Erasmus + scheme will not be renewed in the UK, just that the government isn’t required to renew it. This gives the UK government more negotiating power. The future of Erasmus + in the UK will be decided later on, after the UK has left the EU.

Chris Skidmore, the MP for Kingswood says that the UK still “remains open to participation” in the Erasmus + program despite the vote.

What are the possible negatives of getting rid of the Erasmus + scheme?

Affordability

If the program is not renewed, students will no longer be able to benefit from funding provided by the Erasmus + program, meaning that UK students wishing to study abroad, and EU students wishing to study in the UK, may be required to pay high international fees for their study year abroad experience.

This potentially means that fewer UK students will be able to have the opportunity to study abroad, and fewer EU students will come to the UK on their study year abroad.

However, it has been suggested that the UK may come up with their own study abroad student exchange program, but whether this will have the scale and benefits of the Erasmus + scheme, which was established in 2014.

A report from the House of Lords EU Committee warned that leaving Erasmus + would "disproportionately affect people from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with medical needs or disabilities" as a national scheme would struggle to replicate the Erasmus + program.

Prejudice

Following Brexit and the potential scrapping of the Erasmus + scheme, EU students may not feel welcome in the UK, especially with the rising number of hate crimes after the Brexit vote.

However, many UK universities have published statements saying that xenophobia of any kind will not be tolerated, that the few people who are racist are not representative of the UK as a whole and that students from the EU are very much welcome.

Learning new languages

Erasmus + is a great way to learn a new language, or further develop a language you’re currently learning. Not renewing the Erasmus + scheme may mean that hundreds of UK students don’t have the chance to practice languages abroad, and many EU students won’t get the chance to study English in the UK.

Does this potentially mean that British students will be less likely to study a language if they know they might not have the opportunity to study abroad during their degree? Only time will tell…

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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