Wednesday, 16 May 2018 00:00

MSP WARNS TORY GOVERNMENT NOT TO ABANDON ERASMUS+

The SNP’s Stuart McMillan has warned that Erasmus+ is yet another example of the “massive benefits of the European Union that we stand to lose because of a Tory hard Brexit”, ahead of a Holyrood debate on the scheme's value to Scotland.
 

The Erasmus+ scheme was worth nearly €21m to Scotland in 2017. This scheme aims to promote and modernise education, training, youth work and sport across Europe, and gives students from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to live, work and study in other European countries.
 
A report by Holyrood’s Culture Committee has recommended that the Scottish Government should explore whether it would be possible for Scotland to continue participating in Erasmus+ as a programme country if the UK Government will not commit to the scheme beyond 2020.
 
In a written submission to that Committee, Daniel Evans Centre Head of Commercial and Marketing at West Lothian College described Erasmus+ as a “life-changing” scheme that had motivated young disadvantaged people to “look beyond Friday and consider what they might be doing next year or in their future lives.”
 
Stuart McMillan MSP was able to study in France and Germany because of the EU-funded Erasmus scheme, and in France and Sweden through the European Social Fund. He commented:
 
“Scotland has received €60m funding across 700 individual projects from the EU’s Erasmus Plus scheme since 2014 - this is yet another example of the massive benefits we stand to lose because of a Tory hard Brexit.
 
“And it is not just monetary benefits we stand to lose following Brexit – our universities, businesses and research bodies will miss out on opportunities for international collaboration and our young people will be denied the chance to engage in, as they themselves describe it, life-changing experiences if the Tories pull out of Erasmus+ after 2020.
 
“The future of EU research funding, the Erasmus+ programme and freedom of movement is crucial to the future success of our world-renowned academic institutions, and it is extremely worrying that the Department for Exiting the European Union’s sectoral report on higher education failed to even mention Erasmus+.
 
“Nearly two years since the EU referendum, the Westminster government needs to appreciate the opportunities that will be lost and start limiting the damage Brexit will cause. They can start by ensuring we remain part of Erasmus+.”
 

“The Erasmus+ programme has played a significant role in broadening the educational experience, developing cultural awareness and increasing employment prospects for Scottish students.”

  • Holyrood’s Culture Committee’s report on Erasmus+ is available here

The Committee calls on the UK Government to commit itself in the framework agreement it concludes with the EU to its continued right of participation in Erasmus+ as a programme country beyond 2020. It also notes that the DExEU’s sectoral report on higher education fails to include an analysis of the value of Erasmus+ to those sectors participating in the scheme.
 
The EU Member States enjoy full rights to participate in Erasmus+ funded activities as “programme countries.” Certain other non-member state countries, including members of the European Economic Area and countries acceding to the EU, are able to negotiate “programme country” status in bilateral agreements with the EU.
 
Emily Beever of YouthLink Scotland agreed that Erasmus+ enables organisations to develop projects that deliver wider achievement for young people who may otherwise have fewer opportunities than their peers. Ms Beever noted, for example that:

“Erasmus+ contributes to achieving a lot of the frameworks that we have in Scotland, such as developing the young workforce or curriculum for excellence. Erasmus+ touches on all those areas and helps to achieve their aims.”
 
The British Council Scotland explained in its written submission that “55% of UK young people awarded funding for volunteering or youth exchanges and 30% of UK vocational learners awarded funding for training abroad in 2014-15 were from disadvantaged backgrounds or had additional needs.” In this regard, Ms Killeen noted that Scottish institutions have developed many different approaches to designing Erasmus+ funded projects with a focus on inclusivity and diversity.

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