BM84: European students call on the UK to re-associate with Erasmus+
Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in 2020, student
mobility between the UK and Europe has been significantly hampered, with the UK
Government’s decision to withdraw from Erasmus+ having a huge impact on the
ability of students from the UK to study abroad, or indeed for students across Europe
to study in the UK.
The UK Government has launched the Turing Scheme, which has been widely
considered to be a poor substitute for Erasmus+, with a lack of reciprocal exchange
as well as “the absence of provisions to support staff mobility, limited funding for
non-university exchanges and the need to submit fresh funding bids on an annual
basis, often for similar projects”.
The UK Government’s decision to withdraw from Erasmus+ was condemned by the
Scottish and Welsh governments. The Welsh Government responded by launching
the Taith programme, which has been welcomed by NUS Wales as a significant
improvement compared to the Turing Scheme, but concerns exist regarding the
long-term viability of funding. The Scottish Government has also committed to a
Scottish Education Exchange Programme, but no progress has been made in
Brexit has resulted in a huge number of barriers to students wishing to study between
the UK and the rest of Europe, with new costs such as visa fees and eye-watering
tuition fees meaning it is now all but impossible for students from disadvantaged
backgrounds to choose to study between the UK and the rest of Europe.
The loss of Erasmus+ has been devastating for students in the UK, as well as for
students across Europe who wish to take part in international exchange in the UK. The number of newly enrolled students that are domiciled in the European Union dropped by 53% from 2020/21 to 2021/22 .
Erasmus+ enables young people, students, researchers, professionals, apprentices,
and volunteers alike to benefit from fruitful exchange activities that develop their
competencies and enable better cultural understanding. Erasmus+ offers crucial
formal and non-formal educational experiences benefiting the whole of Europe.
As students of Europe, we recognise and fully believe in the power and importance of
international learning mobility. It provides vital cultural exchange and helps us build
and retain life-long connections, memories and friendships. It strengthens our values
as global citizens and provides participants with skills that can’t be obtained
There is significant strength of feeling, both from students, universities, colleges and
politicians – especially in Scotland and Wales, but also broadly across the UK political
spectrum – that the UK’s participation in Erasmus+ was hugely mutually beneficial,
and that withdrawing was a foolish and self-destructive move by the UK Government.
The European Students’ Union (ESU) therefore calls on the UK Government and the
European Commission to reopen negotiations regarding Erasmus+ and to work
constructively to reinstate the UK as a full member of the programme.
Proposer: NUS-UK, United Kingdom
The future UK-EU relationship. House of Lords, HL Paper, p. 78.