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UK parliament votes down Erasmus+ clause

UK members of parliament voted against a clause which would have required the government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership of the EU’s Erasmus+ program.

More than 16,500 international students and trainees from the UK took part in the Erasmus program in 2016/17. Photo: pixabay

Incoming Erasmus+ students in 2017 generated £420 million in income for the UK

News of the vote was met with ire online, however, the UK’s minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore, said that the vote did “not end or prevent the UK participating in @EUErasmusPlus after leaving the EU”.

“Without continued access to the Erasmus+ program, 17,500 students a year could lose out”

“We remain open to participation and this will be part of future negotiations with the EU- we highly value international student exchanges,” Skidmore wrote on Twitter.

Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said the organisation was pleased that the Universities minister has confirmed that the government is still open to participation in the program, and that it will form part of future negotiations with the EU.

“Without continued access to the Erasmus+ program, 17,500 students a year could lose out on the opportunity to gain international experience. Because Erasmus+ placements are funded, the students who stand to lose the most are those who cannot afford to travel without financial support,” she added.

Incoming Erasmus+ students in 2017 generated £420 million in income for the UK, UUKi said.

“The government must commit to continued study abroad funding, either through full association to the Erasmus+ programme or through a national replacement scheme,” Stern noted.

“The public response to last night’s vote, and to UUKi’s #SupportStudyAbroad campaign, shows just how important the Erasmus+ program is to thousands across the country and we urge the government to consider this as it moves forward.”

Emma Meredith, international director at the Association of Colleges said that despite “understandable concern” it was “worth noting it’s not game over yet for UK participation in Erasmus+”.

Point 11 of the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom notes that the parties will “establish general principles, terms and conditions” in EU programs including in areas such as science and innovation, youth, culture and education.

Non-EU member states that participate in the program currently include Norway, Turkey and Iceland, while it also has partner countries neighbouring the EU, as well as partners across other continents.

Talks on the possibility of the UK’s future involvement are expected to take place in March 2020.

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