Welsh and Scottish governments ‘alarmed’ at Erasmus+ replacement for English students only

A union flag and European flag outside the Houses of Parliament. (PA/Kirsty O'Connor)

A union flag and European flag outside the Houses of Parliament. (PA/Kirsty O'Connor) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Welsh and Scottish governments are urging the UK to continue with the European student exchange programme, regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.

A joint letter has been sent to the UK education secretary and expresses concerns that with just 12 weeks until a possible Brexit scenario, no concrete proposals have been confirmed for students applying to university.

Scotland's further and higher education minister Richard Lochhead and the Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams have said they are "alarmed" about the government's possible replacement that could be only for English students.

The politicians also warn 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.

The letter calls on the Gavin Williamson to ensure the UK government to continue to participate in the scheme in the event of leaving the EU without a deal in place.

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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.

Lochhead said: "Thousands of Scottish students benefit from Erasmus+ yearly, proportionally more than from any other country in the UK.

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"The Scottish and Welsh governments are clear that we must remain a full participant in Erasmus+.

"I am also alarmed to hear the UK Department for Education 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.

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

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."

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