Brexit Update - Erasmus Student Exchange 2020

Posted by:
Lab team
January 16, 2020
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As we begin a new year and new decade, our academic future should be filled with exciting advanced technologies and innovative systems to help our students. Instead, there’s a feeling of negativity, which looms largely due to Brexit

This will not only affect the educational sector within Britain but also students choosing to travel and study abroad. At the start of January, MPs voted against the continued involvement with the Erasmus scheme. With the Brexit deadline closing in, a government decision voting against the amendment to maintain the Erasmus+ programme could have damaging consequences. In this blog, we discuss the huge negativity surrounding scrapping the deal with Erasmus when Britain leaves the EU.

Study abroad, a life-changing experience for many

Travelling abroad to work or study is one of the most eye-opening experiences for many people. One of the main reasons why the Erasmus Student Exchange programme is so popular is because students are able to expand their cultural horizons, including learning a new language and meeting new people.

According to the BBC, over half of university students from Britain who decide to study abroad do so through the Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus has hosted around 4 million students since the program launched - this is simply something that cannot be ignored by the UK government. 

The scheme itself is an EU-funded initiative that allows young people from Britain to study or obtain work experience in another EU country. According to recent studies, up to 2 million students from the UK and EU benefit from study and work experience abroad. Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has argued that Britain continuing with Erasmus regardless of the outcome of Brexit, should be “an absolute no-brainer.”

As for many people, the experiences and career opportunities have been incredible - not to mention what the programme can provide for the education sector. The fear lies in the removal of future opportunities for young people

She goes on to claim that the government is not taking any of these programmes seriously and it will hinder potential experiences for young people, students and people with lower-income backgrounds. Thousands, if not millions, of people can relate to her comments.

British students and foreign language skills

Recent reports find that just 32% of young people in Britain can read or write in more than one language. Compare that to 79% of young people in France and more than 90% in Germany. We recently wrote a blog after travelling to Holland and discussed how many European countries are miles ahead in terms of learning foreign languages, for many reasons. 

Throw Brexit into the mix and it's hard to see how this will improve. Another report published by Universities UK shows that students who choose to study abroad tend to outperform their peers. According to the study, they're much more likely to receive a first-class degree, end up at higher-paid jobs, and unlikely to become unemployed. 

With government voting results already confirmed, people in the educational sector including students, teachers and even parents have gone as far as claiming the vote as being a disaster for younger generations. 

Many students claimed that Erasmus was the best thing that ever happened to them in terms of experiences, stepping outside of the box, and making new friends. These are the simple things in life that can excel your relationships and career. Isn’t that the opportunity that everyone should have regardless of their situation?

Investing in foreign languages is investing in economic development

In a blog we published last year, we wrote about the views and experiences students had on the Erasmus programme in relation to Brexit. They claim that the government is too focused on trade and the younger generations have been forgotten. You can’t argue with their frustrations when at the end of the day, our students of today are the future of the world. 

Restricting their priceless experiences could have serious and negative effects in so many areas. 

SME’s, startups, and big corporations are all looking for employees with foreign languages, often as an essential skill set. Businesses know the quality experiences that one can obtain when choosing to study and work abroad. 

Amongst growing uncertainties, there are some areas to clarify. Yes, voting against Britain’s involvement in the Erasmus schedule could well prove damaging in the future. However, as Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said recently, “The vote does not end or prevent the UK from participating in Erasmus, we remain open to participation and this will be part of future negotiations with the EU - we highly value international student exchanges”. 

Chris Skidmore is stating that voting against participation with the Erasmus scheme does not mean cutting ties. After all, The Department for Education in the UK has constantly reiterated its stance on being committed to continuing the “academic relationship” between the UK and the EU through the Erasmus+ programme. Of course, only time will tell.

Will you be affected by the UK’s Brexit negotiations and in particular the Erasmus programme? Let us know in the comments or contact us if you want to know more about how we can help you with your study and work abroad application.

Important note: After the publication of this article, the Government has approved the launch of a new study abroad programme called the Turing Scheme. We are excited about this initiative and happy to help our students with their application. Ask your My Language Lab tutor for more information.