What is Replacing the Erasmus+ Scheme in the UK? | Top Universities

What is Replacing the Erasmus+ Scheme in the UK?

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 8, 2021 Updated April 8, 2021

Erasmus+ is an EU program which allows students to study and gain work experience abroad in one of the EU’s 32 participating nations. Since Brexit, which came into force on December 31, 2020, the UK will no longer be participating in Erasmus+.

From September 2021, the UK is replacing Erasmus+ with the Turing scheme, named after English mathematician, Alan Turing.

Why is the UK replacing the Erasmus+ program?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, confirmed that the UK will not continue with the Erasmus exchange program because it was too expensive.

The EU Erasmus + program cost the UK around €160 million each year (approx. US$194.4 million) and covered around 49,000 students and more than 7,000 staff members.

The Turing scheme will be backed by £100 million (approx. US$136 million) and this new scheme will help thousands of students in the UK study across the world.

How will the Turing scheme be different to Erasmus+ ?

According to the UK Government’s website, the Turing scheme will be similar to Erasmus+ but it will enable around 35,000 UK students to study and do work placements in countries around the world, instead of just in countries in the EU.

Universities in the Commonwealth and the US are thought to be a priority for the Turing scheme and the UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described the scheme as “truly international.”

The scheme will put a greater focus on helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds who would not previously have had the chance to study abroad. 

Williamson said: “We now have the chance to expand opportunities to study abroad and see more students from all backgrounds benefit from the experience.” 

While the Turing Scheme will part-fund living costs of up to £545 per month, it has recently been revealed (in March 2021) that the new Turing Scheme will not fund tuition fees or travel costs for students. 

The UK government wrote on the Turing Scheme's website: "Turing Scheme funding is not available for tuition fees. There is an expectation that higher education (HE) providers will agree tuition fee waivers with their partner HE providers, in order to facilitate student study placements.”

However, there will be additional support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds which may cover travel expenses of up to £1,360.

When will the Turing scheme start?

The Turing scheme is expected to start in September 2021 and further details of how to sign up will be published nearer the time. 

Who can take part?

Currently the full details of the scheme have not been published and who is eligible to take part will be revealed later on in the year.

However, from the initial released documents it seems the new scheme focuses on helping UK students study abroad in countries around the world.

Whether this means international students will easily be able to study in the UK is yet to be announced.

What if I’m participating in Erasmus+ in the 2020/21 academic year?

The UK will continue to fully participate in the Erasmus+ program during the 2020/21 academic year, so these students will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the academic year, even if this runs into 2021.

Why is the new scheme so controversial?

The decision for the UK to no longer participate in Erasmus+ was met with significant controversy from education experts around the world.

Professor Paul James Cardwell from the University of Strathclyde criticized the new Turing scheme. He wrote on Twitter in December 2020:

“Setting up a scheme to run in 2021 is difficult and especially for those already in degree programs who were due to go on Erasmus placements (language students in particular). Setting up non-Erasmus agreements with Universities takes many months of bureaucracy.”

Cardwell also disparages the possibility that the new scheme will be UK focused, helping more UK students study abroad, rather than helping international students to study in the UK.

He wrote: “Erasmus and non-EU links work on the basis of an exchange, and usually reciprocity in numbers. The UK might be an attractive destination, but also a costly one and the visa rules for students are off-putting.” 

However, the International Director of Universities UK, Vivienne Stern, said the Turing scheme was a “fantastic development.” 

She said: “As I understand it, there will be grants for young people not just in universities, but broader than that, to support study and possibly working and volunteering. 

“These experiences help graduates gain employment, especially for students from low-income backgrounds who are the least likely to be able to travel abroad otherwise.”

What do you think about the new Turing scheme? Let us know in the comments below!

This article was originally published in January 2021 . It was last updated in April 2021

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