Cross-party Scottish students campaign for return of Erasmus scheme

A cross-party group of student political organisations have called for the UK and Scottish governments to work together to ensure on-going participation in the Erasmus+ exchange scheme.

In a joint statement, the SNP Students, Scottish Young Liberals, Scottish Young Greens and Scottish Labour Students said they “condemned the callous decision” by the UK Government not to continue in the scheme as a result of Brexit.

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According to the Scottish Government, more than 2,000 students, staff and learners use the Erasmus+ scheme every year, with Scotland attracting proportionally more Erasmus participants from across Europe – and sending more in the other direction – than any other country in the UK.

Students have launched a bid to bring back the Erasmus scheme.

However, the scheme, which is estimated to deliver at least £7 in value for every £1 it costs in public cash, with a value to the economy estimated to be nearly £34 million annually, was ditched when the UK Government and the EU could not reach an agreement on membership costs during the Brexit trade deal negotiations.

As a result, from Friday Scottish students will be unable to access the scheme, although the UK Government is setting up its own replacement £100m ‘Turing scheme’, announced by Boris Johnson on Christmas Eve.

In a joint statement, the student political organisations said: “Participation in Erasmus meant that young people, regardless of their background, could study, volunteer, or work across the European Union.

"The removal of Scotland, England, and Wales from Erasmus+ breaks Boris Johnson’s own promise that there was ‘no threat to the Erasmus scheme’ from his Brexit plans. Such a move erodes future opportunities for young people, and constitutes a betrayal of students and academic institutions across Scotland, and the rest of the UK.”

They add: “We call on the Scottish Government, and the UK Government to work collaboratively with other devolved nations and interested parties, to ensure continued Scottish and UK participation in the Erasmus+ scheme.

“The ending of participation in Erasmus restricts the futures of Scotland and the UK's young people, and will undoubtedly cause yet more harm to the economy. This issue crosses the constitutional divide, and is of fundamental importance to Scotland's students.”

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