Erasmus students from Kingston University have expressed their discontent in the ending of the Erasmus programme in the UK following Brexit.
A trade deal was finally reached on Christmas Eve between the UK and the European Union, just days before the end of the transition period that followed Britain’s exit from the EU at the end of 2019.
For some people it was with a sigh of relief. For others, it meant the end of an opportunity for an enriching international experience due to the scrapping of the Erasmus programme in the UK.
Luise Tormählen, an Erasmus fashion design student, said: “I felt very disappointed, but mostly for the British students because they will miss out on this great opportunity offered with Erasmus. It’s a shame really.”
Erasmus is a European programme which supports education, training, youth and sport in Europe. With its budget of €14.7bn, it provides over four million Europeans the chance to study, train and gain experience abroad.
For Cécile Rousseau, a drama student from France, Erasmus has given her the opportunity to escape her university for a year and join a better course than she was offered at her home university.
She said: “I really appreciate the fact that I enjoy my studies right now compared to what I was doing in France, and that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Erasmus.”
The program covers the tuition fees of the overseas university and provides grants to Erasmus students for living expenses.
Rousseau said: “It (Erasmus) has allowed me to pursue my studies for free because back in France I received a scholarship to my home university, and Erasmus covers the UK tuition fees, so I am basically studying for free at the moment.”
As a replacement to the European programme, the UK announced the launch of the Turing scheme named after computing engineer Alan Turing. The £100m scheme will provide funding for around 35,000 students from universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges starting in September 2021.
The new scheme will not only give British students the chance to go to Europe but all over the world.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson supported the new scheme and 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 the whole world.”
Ayoub Bouhachmoud, an engineering student from France, had a different view about the new scheme.
He said: “I don’t believe it’s a better replacement to Erasmus. The decision is a bit egoistical because it only focusses on British students. It’s not a win-win deal as it doesn’t consider European students.”
The Prime Minister said that the country “loses out” financially due to the larger number of EU nationals coming to study in the UK, which is why they decided to opt-out of the Erasmus program. Yet a report earlier this year said ending Erasmus membership would cost the UK more than £200m a year.
Cécile disagrees with the new scheme and added that it will not be beneficial to British students.
“I’m not sure that it’s worth it because they’re already paying a lot for their home fees, so receiving help for a European university, which is likely to be a lot cheaper than British universities, is not worth it.”
Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current Erasmus programme until September 2021 when it will be replaced by the new Turing Scheme.