Replacement for Erasmus scheme to start in September

Around 17,000 students participate in the study abroad programme each year

A replacement for the Erasmus scheme, which helps young people study abroad, will start next September.

The UK will end its participation in Erasmus following the end of the Brexit transition period, as per the EU trade deal Boris Johnson agreed to on Christmas Eve.

Yesterday (December 27), the government announced a new scheme will now take Erasmus’ place and would be named the Turing scheme after World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing. They have promised “over £100million” will be dedicated to the new programme, which will send around 35,000 students on placements and exchanges to “countries across the world” from September 2021.

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However, as the Independent reports, some have questioned whether that many students would take part when, if £100m was divided between 35,000 participants, they would receive only £2,850 towards their studies and living costs. Currently, those taking part in Erasmus receive much higher amounts to help with their fees and living costs.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the Turing scheme gave the UK “the chance to expand opportunities to study abroad and see more students from all backgrounds benefit from the experience”.

UK, EU flags
The UK and EU flags CREDIT: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

“We have designed a truly international scheme which is focused on our priorities, delivers real value for money and forms an important part of our promise to level up the United Kingdom,” he said. “These opportunities will benefit both our students and our employers, as well as strengthening our ties with partners across the world.”

Peter Ricketts, the former head of the Foreign Office, cautioned that a UK alternative to the Erasmus scheme would not be “a full substitute” and called the decision to split from the programme “short-sighted and mean-spirited”.

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The move to leave the scheme was widely criticised, but Downing Street said staying in it would cost “hundreds of millions of pounds” because more students come to the UK through it than go to study in Europe. Proposals for the Turing scheme so far do not mention funding students to come to the UK, potentially cutting off an avenue of income for British universities.

Johnson’s EU trade deal, which will come into play when the UK fully leaves the EU on January 1, 2021, has also been criticised for not including musicians and creatives in the list of workers able to enter Europe without a visa. A petition calling on the government to secure a visa-free work permit has now surpassed 100,000 signatures, meaning it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

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