Threat of no-deal Brexit sparks funding fears for thousands of Erasmus students

PUBLISHED: 21:19 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 07:39 30 January 2019

According to Universities UK, thousands of students could lose out on funding to study abroad if the UK opts for a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

According to Universities UK, thousands of students could lose out on funding to study abroad if the UK opts for a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Thousands of students could lose out on funding to study abroad if the UK crashes out of the EU, the body Universities UK has warned.

The government announced on Tuesday that in the event of no deal, the UK will continue to work with the European Commission to fund current Erasmus+ students.

However, Universities UK said the government should “urgently” guarantee funding for future students wishing to study abroad.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Today’s news from government provides welcome clarity for British students currently in Europe on Erasmus+ placements.

“However, excluding any grants that may have already been agreed, government has not committed to new funding for study abroad placements beyond this.

“As a matter of urgency, the UK Government must reconsider its decision and commit to fund 2019/20 study abroad placements in the event of no deal.

“Thousands of British students could miss out on the life-changing opportunity to take on placements at European universities on the Erasmus+ scheme.

“In particular, this decision will affect students from poorer backgrounds and disabled students, many of whom rely on financial help to meet the extra costs of studying abroad.”

Universities UK represents 136 establishments throughout the country and estimates that in 2016/17, 16,561 British students studied on Erasmus+ placements.

The Erasmus programme gives university students the opportunity to study in Europe for three to 12 months.

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Students receive an Erasmus+ grant provided by the European Commission which is then paid though their university.

The financial assistance is designed to contribute to any extra costs faced by students as they study abroad and can be up to 300 to 350 euros (£260-£300) a month.

Universities UK sent an open letter to MPs on the risks of no-deal Brexit arguing that “the UK leaving the EU without a deal is one of the biggest threats our universities have ever faced”.

As part of its no-deal contingency plans, Universities UK is updating its guidance to universities to help minimise the impact on students.

A spokesman from the Department of Educations said: “It is the responsibility of government to prepare for every eventuality, including no deal. As is the case across government, the department is stepping up planning for the possibility of a no deal.

“We remain committed to international exchange and collaboration through education, and continue to work toward reaching an agreement with the EU to continuing participation in Erasmus+ should there be a no deal.”

Students have been advised on the Department for Education website to continue to submit applications to the European Commission or the UK National Agency.

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