Save Erasmus, Scottish and Welsh ministers urge DfE

In a letter to Gavin Williamson, Richard Lochhead and Kirsty Williams raise their concerns about Erasmus+ after Brexit

Tes Reporter

'Erasmus+ changes lives. Don't let students miss out'

Scottish and Welsh governments have urged education secretary Gavin Williamson to ensure the survival of the Erasmus programme post-Brexit. 

In a letter to Mr Williamson, Scotland’s further and higher education minister, Richard Lochhead, and Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams raise their concerns about what a no-deal Brexit would mean for the exchange programme. 

They say that leaving with no deal – and without an alternative Third Country agreement or other arrangement being reached by the UK – universities, colleges, and schools across the UK would be ineligible to submit applications to participate in the final year of the current Erasmus+ programme in 2020.

Background: What will happen to Erasmus+ funding after Brexit?

Opinion: 'Losing Erasmus+ will increase inequality'

News: Marsden: Brexit could hit college students

Between 2014 and 2018, it is estimated more than 15,000 students and staff from Scotland took part in the EU-led scheme, which allows funded temporary study overseas as part of their Scottish courses.

Calls for 'action and assurances' on Erasmus

Mr Lochhead said that he was alarmed to hear that the DfE could be considering an Erasmus+ replacement programme for England only – with potentially no consequential funding for devolved administrations to put in place their own arrangements.

"Thousands of Scottish students benefit from Erasmus+ yearly, proportionally more than from any other country in the UK. The Scottish and Welsh governments are clear that we must remain a full participant in Erasmus+," he said.

"That's why we have written to the UK government calling for urgent action and assurances that Scottish students won't miss out."

'Fantastic cultural and educational exchange'

He added: "It is the Scottish government's preference to remain in the EU but in the event of a damaging no-deal Brexit, students could now see the door to this fantastic cultural and educational exchange slammed shut.

"It is unacceptable that with less than 12 weeks left until the UK government plans to take the United Kingdom out of the EU without an agreement in place, there is still no plan for alternative arrangements."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "This government is working to negotiate a new deal but in the event the UK leaves the EU without an agreement in place we have already guaranteed cover for the payments for successful UK applicants for Erasmus+ and ESC bids.

"Successful bids are those that are approved directly by the European Commission or by the UK National Agency and ratified by the European Commission.

"The UK government has also repeatedly made clear that it values international exchange and collaboration in education, which is why we are exploring participation in the successor scheme and preparing for a range of potential outcomes."

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