Government unveils details of post-Brexit Erasmus replacement

Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons

Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament Live

Schools, colleges and universities can now apply for funding to allow students to study and work abroad as part of the post-Brexit replacement of the Erasmus exchange programme.

The £110 million Turing scheme, which will fund global exchanges for about 35,000 UK students from September, will target disadvantaged students and those from under-represented areas.

But the replacement will not fund tuition fees or travel costs - and the living allowance has been slashed.

The European Commission originally paid up to £1,315 towards travel costs, with the opportunity to study for free in any European country.

With the new scheme, the UK government will only fund travel fees for the disadvantaged and it will be down to universities and colleges to strike deals over tuition fees.

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As part of the UK-wide launch, education ministers are visiting the devolved nations on Friday to highlight the advantages of the scheme and ensure wider participation for all students across the UK.

Eligible education and training institutions across the UK will be able to apply for funding for international opportunities from this month, but funding decisions are not expected until July.

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Education secretary, Gavin Williamson said: “The programme’s focus on social mobility and value for money will open up more opportunities for international education and travel to all of our students, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds who were less likely to benefit from the previous EU scheme.

“I urge all universities, schools and colleges from all corners of the UK to start their applications and partner up with countries worldwide.”

But the opposition parties said the Turing scheme would leave Scottish students worse off.

“It’s just the latest example of the long-term damage of Boris Johnson’s bad Brexit deal,” the SNP’s shadow education spokeswoman Carol Monaghan said in a statement.

“The replacement scheme offers no tuition fees support – which can jump up astronomically. The Tory government has form in burdening students and young people with eye-watering debt, its Turing Scheme will simply add to that for Scottish students.

“Rather than ripping away rights from our young people, Boris Johnson should engage with the EU and seek to re-join the Erasmus scheme.”

Matt Western, Labour’s universities spokesman, said: “The government is quick with the rhetoric but is once again failing students.

“The government committed to helping disadvantaged students access study abroad opportunities but without support to cover tuition fees this will be impossible for many.”

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