UK government's Erasmus replacement criticised

Michelle Donelan in the House of Commons

Michelle Donelan in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament Live

A union representing universities has criticised the government's replacement for the EU's Erasmus scheme.

Schools, colleges and universities can now access funding rates and eligibility criteria for the post-Brexit replacement of the Erasmus exchange programme to help them prepare bids to join the new scheme.

A website with details on the £110 million Turing scheme, which will support UK students to go on work and study placements abroad from September, has been launched ahead of applications opening in March.

The government has committed itself to recruiting at least 600,000 international students to the UK by 2030 and to increase the amount generated from education exports to £35 billion a year.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan said: “We are committed to making sure our students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can benefit from studying and working abroad.

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“Working with the British Council, we will open up the globe to our young people, and I look forward to seeing the exciting and enriching opportunities the Turing scheme will bring.”

The Turing scheme will look to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “The Turing scheme opens the world’s door to work and study placements for college students. This is an important part of ‘levelling up’ the life chances for all of our young people – whatever their background.”

But University and College (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said the £110 million funding for the Turing scheme is approximately “£83 million less than the UK was receiving from the Erasmus scheme”.

She said: “Opening up access to more students from disadvantaged backgrounds is a laudable ambition but needs the resources to match it.

“Erasmus also supported staff mobility and knowledge exchange, and contributed to the outward-looking, collaborative approach upon which the success of our institutions is built.”

She added: “At the very least, the Turing scheme needs to provide the same benefits we received under schemes like Erasmus, if the government’s post-Brexit ‘global Britain’ rhetoric is to be believed.”

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