The SNP’s Education spokesperson has warned that the Tory government is in danger of ripping away rights and opportunities from students, unless it urgently follows the EU’s lead in committing to fund the Erasmus+ programme beyond March.
Last week, the European Commission issued a guarantee that, in case of a no-deal Brexit, current Erasmus students will be able to complete their stay without interruption “provided that the United Kingdom honours its financial obligations under the EU budget."
In Westminster today, Carol Monaghan MP pressed the Education Secretary Damian Hinds to end the uncertainty and commit to further funding in 2019/20 for students currently studying, and planning to study, in Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Universities UK voiced concerns that thousands of students will no longer be funded for their studies abroad after the 29th March 2019, with EU students on Erasmus+ programmes in the UK also facing the prospect of having to fund their studies themselves or return home.
The Erasmus+ scheme was worth nearly €21m to Scotland in 2017. The programme aims to promote and modernise education, training, youth work and sport across Europe, and gives students from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to live, work and study in other European countries.
Commenting, Carol Monaghan MP said:
“Whilst our EU neighbours take steps to safeguard learning opportunities for students, the Tory government in contrast is in danger of ripping away those rights and opportunities due to its damaging and ideological Brexit plans.
“The Erasmus+ programme is a unique scheme that has allowed students from the UK and the EU to travel, study and experience new cultures. It has opened avenues to disadvantaged students who otherwise would not have been able to afford studying abroad.
“Scotland has received €60m funding across 700 individual projects from the Erasmus+ scheme since 2014 – this cannot be put at risk by a careless Tory government intent on putting party interests before the interests of the country.
“The UK government must now urgently follow the EU’s lead in taking steps to protect the interests and opportunities of students. As the clock ticks down to Brexit day in March, the Education Secretary must commit to funding all 2019/20 Erasmus+ study abroad placements beyond March and in the event of a no deal Brexit.
"A Tory-driven Brexit is already hitting the economy, businesses and jobs. It is high time the chaos and instability came to an end so that our future generations are able to benefit from the rights we have shared and enjoyed with the EU."