UK 'could develop alternative to Erasmus+ if needed'

The UK is 'open' to participating in Erasmus+ - but could develop its own exchange programme, says Williamson

UK 'could develop alternative to Erasmus+ if needed' after leaving the European Union

The government is prepared to develop its own alternative to the Erasmus student exchange programme should Brexit negotiations fail to lead to an agreement about the UK's future involvement.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson told the House of Commons that the UK was "open" to participating in Erasmus+ but would also develop alternative arrangements should they be needed.

News: MPs vote down move to safeguard Erasmus+ after Brexit

Opinion: 'Losing Erasmus+ will increase inequality'

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

Erasmus 'a question for future negotiations'

Mr Williamson told MPs: "As we prepare to forge a new place on the international stage, we want our young people to have the opportunity to study abroad through exchange programmes.

"The United Kingdom is open to participation in the next Erasmus+ programme and this will be a question for future negotiations with the European Union.

"We do truly understand the value that such exchange programmes bring all students right across the United Kingdom, but to ensure we're able to continue to offer that, we'll also develop our own alternative arrangements should they be needed."

FE 'should be gold standard'

In the same debate, the SNP's education spokesperson Carol Monaghan said the government should focus on funding all forms of further education, not just prioritising higher education.

Ms Monaghan, a former teacher, said: "This is not just about getting young people to university, it is about positive destinations and employment. And 93 per cent of young people in Scotland achieve positive destinations – that's the highest in the UK."

She added: "In Scotland, the lines are blurred and they should be regardless of where you live in the UK. It shouldn't be about HE being the gold standard and FE being something different, we need to be working in collaboration."

Responding to Ms Monaghan's comments that the government's pledge of £1.8 million for FE "does not come close to what is required" and that it is not spending as much as Scotland based on per-student funding, Conservative politician Sir Desmond Swayne said: "And the results in Scotland are not as good as those in England – not every problem is solved by throwing more money at it."

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