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Erasmus To Be Replaced With UK Turing Scheme Post-brexit

During Brexit trade negotiations, education experts feared  Britain leaving the EU could have serious implications for students wanting to benefit from the Erasmus student exchange programme.

Having failed to reach an agreement regarding membership post-Brexit, the UK will no longer participate in the popular programme from 2021. Whilst initially stating that Erasmus would be safe, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has since confirmed that the UK would look to establish its own version of the scheme.

The UK’s replacement for Erasmus will be named after British mathematician and computer scientist, Alan Turing, known as the Turing scheme.

Group of Smiling students talking to each other symbolising student exchange

Student exchange with Erasmus

Since its inception in 1987, more than 200,000 students from EU member states have chosen to study abroad through Erasmus, which provides foreign exchange options for students from within the European Union. A number of British universities were signed up to the programme, including the University of Manchester, the University of Durham and the University of Nottingham. Around 17,000 British students would take part in the scheme each year.

However, according to Helen Drake, Europe expert and chair of the UACES (University Association of Contemporary European Studies) the closure of the Erasmus scheme could have a significant impact on international students and higher education.

“British universities could experience an unprecedented fall in overseas student recruitment, with many incoming Erasmus students not turning up and outgoing students having their places withdrawn.”

Meanwhile, Universities UK, the major voice for universities in Britain, revealed there is “great uncertainty and an exit would obviously lead to lengthy negotiations.”

Through the Erasmus programme, students can go abroad for 3 to 12 months (including a complementary traineeship period, if planned). The same student may receive grants for studying or being trained abroad totalling up to 12 months’ maximum per each cycle of study.

Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, stated that the UK’s departure from Erasmus is a real sadness, “a scheme whose original foundations were laid at Sussex. Over the years the Erasmus programme transformed the lives of thousands of young people.”

What is the Turing scheme?

Following the UK’s exit from the Erasmus scheme in 2021, it has confirmed that the programme will be replaced with the Turing scheme. The Turing scheme will differ from Erasmus in that it will allow around 35,000 UK students each year the opportunity to study in some of the best universities across the world.

Boris Johnson said, “students will have the opportunity not just to go to European universities but to go to the best universities in the world. Because we want our young people to experience the immense intellectual stimulation of Europe but also of the whole world.”

Vivienne Stern, the director of Universities UK International, expressed her disappointment of the UK’s exit from Erasmus but noted that the Turing scheme would be an excellent opportunity for young people to have supported study, working and volunteering overseas.

Stern noted the importance of having the scheme fully funded to support students from low-income backgrounds in travelling abroad, as well as the ability for the scheme to provide the same opportunities as Erasmus.

The Turing scheme is set to commence in September 2021 and initially has a GBP 100 million budget which will be reviewed h annually

With previous comments that Erasmus was elitist and only benefitted privileged students, the Turing scheme promises to focus on helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students will receive grants to help cover the costs of studying and living overseas.

It’s been confirmed that UK organisations will be invited to bid into the Turing scheme during early 2021.

Financial implications of ending Erasmus

Whilst the Turing scheme will support UK students travelling abroad, it is not expected to fund international students looking to study in the UK. This will create substantial financial implications for UK universities, as they will be missing out on a significant source of income.

With approximately 30,000 international students previously entering the UK each year, it’s been estimated that the end of Erasmus for the UK could result in a loss of GBP 243 million for UK universities.

Incoming international students to the UK from 2021, will be reliant on individual arrangements between institutions and will not be covered by the tuition fee waivers offered by Erasmus.

It’s thought that the success of the Turing scheme will be dependent on its ability to create the same opportunities and benefits that Erasmus provided.

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