A party campaigning to rejoin the European Union has launched a petition to bring Erasmus, the EU’s study exchange scheme, back to the UK’s young people.
Richard Hewison, leader of Rejoin EU, said that UK students under the age of 24 could not vote at the time of the EU referendum in 2016 – so their right to experience education in another European country should not be taken away from them.
He told The London Economic: “Erasmus has nothing to do with membership of the EU. Indeed, the UK government guaranteed our continued membership of the scheme in early 2020, only to do a complete U-turn at the end of the year.
“Even if the 2016 vote had been about Erasmus, nobody currently under the age of 24 was given any say in the matter and these are the people who have had their rights to a full education taken away.”
Rejoin EU chairman Andrew Smith added: “Since 1987, more than 3.3 million students have benefited from the educational, cultural and linguistic benefits of studying in other countries and languages across the EU. Every year, approximately 16,000 UK students were part of this.
“Anecdotal evidence from participants show this is almost always a life-changing experience, giving people a broader perspective on the world and leading to them interacting with groups they would often not come into contact with otherwise.
“It would be a tragedy and frankly a scandal if future generations were denied that opportunity.”
The petition can be found here.
Turing scheme replaces Erasmus
Last year, the UK government launched its own scheme to replace the EU’s Erasmus.
The Turing scheme was put forward after Britain refused to continue participating in the European exchange post-Brexit – and boasted it would offer study opportunities beyond the bloc.
But university students in Northern Ireland will be able to take part in either scheme, due to an agreement with the Irish government.
The UK version came under fire for not offering placements for teaching and college staff and for youth workers, unlike Erasmus.
And, because of Brexit, Britain’s beneficiaries of the Turing scheme are facing complicated red tape.
Since the UK’s exit from the EU, British students are only allowed to stay in an EU country for 90 out of every 180 days without a visa.
What’s more, the government warned UK students that they would need to sort out health and travel insurance – prompting criticism that only rich students will afford the opportunities offered.
Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS vice-president for higher education, told the BBC: “Despite the claims of this government, they have not backed up the new Turing scheme with the funding required to support disadvantaged students to study abroad.”