We campaign for Scotland to rejoin Erasmus+, an EU scheme worth €26bn over the next seven years.
We support the Scottish Government in its efforts, backed by over 100 MEPs and the Commons Scottish Affairs committee, to persuade EU-27 governments and the European Commission to allow young Scots to enjoy the full fruits of Erasmus despite the initial block by European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.
These efforts are bearing fruit with the new German coalition government programme for Europe explicitly mentioning the idea of regions (or sub-states) taking part in the scheme.
But we’re also urging Scottish ministers and officials to put in place a new Scottish exchange scheme similar to that underway in Wales and hope to see it and/or Erasmus+ in place in 2022. We want the Scottish Government to campaign more vigorously for the right of young Scots to be part of Erasmus and/or its Scottish equivalent.
Erasmus+ is the world’s biggest and most successful educational exchange programme for young people that the Johnson government had abandoned for entirely ideological (anti-EU) reasons, depriving thousands of young Scots and their teachers the right to study, train or work in Europe. Scots have been disproportionately represented on Erasmus schemes since its inception.
Its replacement scheme, Turing, is a pale shadow, worth just £110m in its first year and only guaranteed for those 12 months while available only for UK students and not young workers/apprentices or their teachers/trainers as Erasmus+ was/is. It simply fails to offer enough genuine opportunities to Scotland where the educational sector as a whole is a vital economic and social component.
European Movement in Scotland executive committee members and leading local group figures are active in the pan-UK Alliance for Erasmus+ which campaigns for young people in England, Scotland and Wales to be allowed to join the EU scheme. (Northern Ireland enjoys that right through funding from Dublin). We urge our colleagues throughout England and Wales to combine forces with us to reject Turing and rejoin Erasmus.
Scotland is suffering badly from the loss of freedom of movement under Brexit and our young people deserve the right to regain it, including via Erasmus+.
Erasmus+ – The Facts
Erasmus was established in 1987 as a student exchange scheme in EU countries. Since then it has grown to be the largest international education programme in the world.
As Erasmus+, which launched in January 2014, it now
- covers mutual exchange schemes for higher education, vocational training, schools, adult learning, youth work, sport
- provides funding and other forms of support for disadvantaged young people
- provides funding for people with disabilities and special needs
Participation and Coverage
- Erasmus + covers the EU 27 countries and six other countries as full members
- 168 partner countries take part under one or more headings
- More than 4,000 institutions from 31 countries participate
- By 2020, Erasmus had engaged with over 10m participants
- In 2019 54,619 took part in 684 UK projects
- More than 2000 students from Scotland took part in its last year in the UK, with Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities in the Top 3 sending institutions
- 10m young people are expected to benefit over the next 7 years
The Erasmus+ Approach
- Erasmus+ is built on reciprocal arrangements: countries share budget & benefits.
- Pays the cost of travel, subsistence and course fees
- Gives mutual accreditation to qualifications obtained, as part of participants’ final degree or diploma.
- Builds lasting good relations, so-called “soft power”.
- Erasmus + is the partner programme to Horizon the EU collaborative research programme.
(The UK has maintained membership of Horizon.)
Turing ANd ERasmus+ – A Comparison
Erasmus+ is replaced in Greast Britain with the “Turing” programme (after the mathematician and war-time code-breaker Alan Turing). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not consulted, though education is a devolved competence for all 3 nations.
Turing is due to take over from Erasmus at the start of the next academic year, Autumn 2021.
Here’s the first funding report in figures:
- Turing offers £110m for 35,000 British students, (£2,867 per student per year), compared to a figure of £286m a year alleged by the UK government to have cost it under Erasmus + – notably for sending 18,000 UK students and funding 30,000 incoming students
Erasmus provided the UK with grant funding of €144.69m in 2019. The Scottish Government says, however, that a prop[er cost-benefit analysis shows Erasmus+ generated £7 for every £1 spent.
- Turing will not cover apprentices/trainees, youth workers, adult learners, teachers, sportswomen/men and their trainers, solidarity courses overseas – Erasmus+ does.
- Turing will not cover full costs, with students forced to meet their own tuition fees, and no provision for incoming students. Erasmus+ covers travel, subsistence and course fees, and provides additional support for young people from low-income/deprived households
- Turing’s first funding round saw 363 projects approved, including 28 from Scotland, with 70% of funding going to Higher Education. By far the highest number of students (13.5%) are heading for the US, followed by China, Canada and Australia.
- Erasmus+ funding for the next 7 years is up 80% on the previous seven-year period (€26.2bn v €14.7bn), with 70% of funding for mobility via a dedicated app and 30% earmarked for cooperation projects. The focus is on social inclusion and the digital and green transitions. The new programme doubles opportunities for vocational trainees who can now travel outside Europe.
- The UK government claims almost half of the approved projects involve “disadvantaged participants” while Erasmus mainly benefited elite university students. In fact, most of the increased funding for Erasmus+ is destined for young people from poorer backgrounds while costly tuition fees will put off many poorer GB students from going overseas.
Cartoon courtesy of Richard Milne. Students pix CC BY-SA 2.0