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UK Turing bids exceed estimates and will fund 40,000 places from September

Successful bids to the UK’s new outbound mobility program, the Turing Scheme, will allow 40,000 UK university and school students to study and work abroad.

Destinations included in the Turing Scheme include Canada, Japan and the US, as well as popular European destinations like Germany and France. Photo: Unsplash

Education providers in the West Midlands are set to receive the most funding

The £110m scheme will fund mobility programs from students at over 120 universities, as well as schools and further education colleges, with 48% of places set to go to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The initiative, which was announced after the UK withdrew from the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme, had originally aimed to fund places for 35,000 students.

“Our schools, colleges and universities have worked tirelessly to make this program a success, and I am grateful to them and their global partners who have truly embraced this opportunity for international collaboration,” said universities minister Michelle Donelan.

“Until now it has been an opportunity disproportionately enjoyed by those from the most privileged backgrounds”

“I look forward to seeing the innovation and expertise our students, pupils and vocational learners bring back to this country from their journeys to every corner of the globe – from Canada to Japan, and Australia to the US.”

Donelan has previously said that mobility opportunities “should not be limited to a privileged few” and that the new program is “truly global”. UK students will be funded to take up work and study placements in over 150 international destinations.

While £110m had been allocated to the initiative, records show that only £96.2m had been approved, with England accounting for 84.8%.Scotland represents 8.2% of allocated funding, with Wales accounting for 5.4% and Northern Ireland 1.7%.

Unlike other home nations, Northern Ireland has no approved funding for school participants.

By targeting areas in the UK where uptake of the Erasmus+ program has previously been lower, such as the Midlands and North of England, the government also hopes the scheme will improve social mobility.

Education providers in the West Midlands are set to receive the most funding, the government added.

“The chance to work and learn in a country far from home is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – which broadens minds, sharpens skills and improves outcomes,” education secretary Gavin Williamson suggested.

“But until now it has been an opportunity disproportionately enjoyed by those from the most privileged backgrounds. The Turing Scheme has welcomed a breadth of successful applications from schools and colleges across the country, reflecting our determination that the benefits of Global Britain are shared by all.”

The government also hopes the initiative will boost UK ties with international partners.

“By strengthening our partnerships with the finest institutions across the globe, the Turing Scheme delivers on the government’s post-Brexit vision, and helps a new generation grasp opportunities beyond Europe’s borders,” Williamson continued.

Of the 40,000 individual placements supported, 28,000 placements are for university students. Under Erasmus+ only 18,300 UK university students were funded in the academic year 2018/19.

For higher education destinations, the US represents 13.49% of placements with 3,911 learners, followed by 6.40% opting for mobilities to China with 1,857 students and 6.09% to Canada, with 1,766.

France, Spain and China lead the way for school participants, with 1,150, 883 and 518 participants, respectively.

For further education and vocational education and training, 1,177 students will go to Spain, 532 to France and 413 to the US.

However, unlike the Erasmus+ program, no reciprocal opportunities for inbound students from other countries will be funded under the new program.

The Welsh government has announced a £65m reciprocal International Learning Exchange Programme, funding both inbound and outbound mobility.

“The Turing Scheme will create opportunities for thousands of students from all over the country to gain experience working and studying abroad,” Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, added.

“We know from the evidence we have collected that students who have such experience tend to do better academically and in employment outcomes – and that this is especially true for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Funding will cover travel and expenses such as passports and visas, as well as grants for living costs, to “tackle the barriers some students face to studying overseas”, the government noted.

More students from a wider range of backgrounds having mobility opportunities will benefit the UK economy in the long run, UUKi’s Stern added.

“Student mobility will be crucial post-pandemic as the world reopens”

Chief executive of Association of Colleges David Hughes said that it “encouraging to see colleges taking up all that Turing can offer – including colleges that are newer to international partnerships – exploring exchanges across a broad range of countries”.

“Student mobility will be crucial post-pandemic as the world reopens and learners from all backgrounds access their chance to develop technical and personal skills, build their confidence and experience other cultures,” Hughes concluded.

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