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Safeguard Erasmus for UK students

The UK must commit to a financial contribution to the Erasmus program while it engages in “constructive discussions” to continue allowing students benefit from the language and cultural skills the program offers, the British Academy has urged.

Some 53% of UK students who study abroad take part in the Erasmus program. Photo: Pexels

The UK is the third most popular destination for incoming students

Along with financial commitment and constructive discussions ahead of the adoption of Multiannual Financial Framework and the Erasmus Regulation, the UK’s planned points-based immigration system must guarantee students, researchers, trainees and volunteers can come to the country for the entirety of their Erasmus planned mobility.

“One in two UK-based students going abroad as part of their studies do so thanks to the Erasmus”

While the recently announced R&D Roadmap is a “helpful starting point”, the points-based system will require Erasmus students to obtain a visa if they remain in the UK beyond six months, the organisation’s Association to Erasmus: Challenges and Opportunities report warned.

The UK is the third most popular destination for incoming students with 31,396 students coming to study or complete a traineeship in 2018-19.

The country needs to “sharpen and expand” its presence in Brussels, it added.

The UK’s mission to the EU and the UK Research Office ought to gather information and conduct critical relationship-building in Europe, while UK Embassies in the EU and the UK Science & Innovation network should also play a critical role.

Simon Goldhill FBA, foreign secretary of the British Academy, emphasised that the Erasmus program provides a “recognised framework for the circulation of ideas and talent with other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world”.

“One in two UK-based students going abroad as part of their studies do so thanks to the Erasmus program,” he said.

Along with the critical role in research life, students, staff, higher education institutions and businesses benefit from enhanced language skills, cultural awareness and employment opportunities, Goldhill continued.

“It is vital that the UK reaches an association agreement in order to safeguard opportunities to study, train and work in other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world provided by the Erasmus program.”

A financial commitment would “help signal to the student and research community nationally and internationally the seriousness of the UK’s determination to associate” to the next program Erasmus set to run to 2027, the report suggested.

The paper also highlighted the benefits of the Erasmus program, finding that it “provides a critical pathway for language degrees and the promotion of languages in a context of continuing decline in the number of students studying languages at secondary school and consequently at university”.

As well as enhancing language skills, it ensures that UK-based students and academic staff can work across different cultures and within a diverse workforce. It also helps to establish vital international partnerships, it said.

Beyond EU research programs and higher education mobility functions, between 2014-2018 the program funded exchanges for other groups including €114.3 million for vocational education and training, €45.4m for youth, €19.8m for schools, and €5.2m for adult education

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has previously said “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme”.

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