Erasmus+, which is funded by the European Union, is the biggest source of funding and mobility for colleges, offering participants the opportunity to learn, work and train abroad. Since 2017, UK colleges along have received €77 million in funding from the program.
“The program is too valuable and beneficial to not be invested in or replaced”
The AoC said that 95% of colleges, whose budgets are already stretched due to a decade of cuts, won’t be able to offer placements abroad without a post-Brexit plan in place.
A third also reported they may have to ask students to self-fund in the future.
Representing further education, sixth form and tertiary specialist colleges in England, the association is urging the government to consult with the education industry. At present, the government plans to underwrite ongoing and already approved projects until 2020, but only for institutions in the UK and not for those abroad.
“Whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations, young people’s futures must be protected. Erasmus+ is the key route for college students to experience a short period working or training in another country,” said Emma Meredith, the AoC’s international director.
“Our survey clearly shows that the programme is too valuable and beneficial to not be invested in or replaced, if or when the UK leaves the EU.
“The current international education strategy must go further if the government is serious about helping the UK punch above its weight internationally and serious about providing parity of opportunity to all students.”
This view was echoed by organisations such as UKCISA and UUKI.
“International exchange is critical to the success of our colleges and we urge the government to continue to support this activity through Erasmus+ or a replacement programme,” Anne Marie Graham, chief executive at UKCISA, said.
Graham also highlighted the benefits such programs can bring to students, including increased confidence, communication abilities and team building skills.
“We know through our work at Universities UK International that study abroad leads to many benefits, including greater graduate employability, better degree outcomes and higher salaries,” added Vivienne Stern, director at Universities UK International.
“Without this continued funding, 17,000 students will miss out on study abroad opportunities next year.”