The Erasmus exchange program - understanding the real benefits and the impact of Brexit

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Lab team
March 26, 2019
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“Currently 53% of UK university students who do learn abroad, do so through the scheme [Source: BBC]That’s a large percentage of UK university students studying through the Erasmus exchange programme. As explained in El País, the Erasmus exchange program is considered a life-changing experience for many students. The numbers speak for itself - in total, Erasmus has hosted around four million students since the program launched.What are the benefits of studying abroad? Not only can students experience a different culture but communication and languages skills can be strengthened, which will contribute towards future opportunities. In terms of employment, these attributes are what many companies will require job applicants to have already obtained.However, with Brexit on the horizon, this could mean enrolled students in the UK or abroad for the 2018/2019 academic year could potentially lose their scholarship to travel and study when the UK leaves the EU.The European Commission recently voted in support of funding UK students studying on the Erasmus+ student exchange programme, in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario. The commission also vowed to continue supporting European students already in the UK on the scheme. Negotiations are said to take place between the UK and European Commission to ensure a deal is agreed, however, the problem is that to process and agree on the 2019-20 programme, they cannot start discussions until after the UK leaves the EU. This is where the uncertainty lies for many students. To provide an overview, more than 17,000 British students have planned to relocate and study under the Erasmus+ programme from September this year. In January 2018, the UK government published a technical note which failed to guarantee any funding for the Erasmus programme past 2020 if the UK leaves with a no-deal. As a result of this, students planning to study abroad could well be affected during the next academic year. It has been understood that some students have already received letters outlining the possible uncertainties with their funding. “People have been focused on issues like trade, and students have been forgotten. But that’s wrong. We are the future.” Students discussing the Erasmus+ programme talk about the priceless experiences which can contribute to developing language skills. You can understand the collective frustration coming from educational institutes, tutors and students. The UK government have since provided some clarity into what could change when the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal and how it could affect Erasmus students. To find out more on this please head over to the UK government website here. The importance of the Erasmus programme cannot be underestimated. It continues to contribute to the world’s future growth of the next leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs. “Graduates who go abroad during their studies are more likely to get a higher degree classification and be in graduate jobs than those who don’t. They are less likely to be unemployed and also gain higher starting salaries.” According to a study via Universities UK, students who decide to study overseas are at an advantage in terms of future work placements. Other studies show that many SMEs think that future workers will need foreign languages as a skill set, along with being well-travelled. In order to create the next generation of global entrepreneurs, our students need to be encouraged to study abroad. This enables them to learn as much from different cultures as possible. Restricting this in any way only has negative effects on the future of education.As it stands, there is no real quick answer or solution. The EU and the UK need to ensure students around the world on how they could be affected. Will your studies be affected if Britain fails to agree on a deal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Useful LinksStay up to date via the Erasmus website - link.Erasmus+ in the UK - if there's no Brexit deal - link.