Gordon MP Richard Thomson has challenged the UK Government on its continuing refusal to re-join the Erasmus Scheme, an EU programme that can help young people travel to experience work, study or train in another country.
Mr Thomson raised the issue at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office questions in the House of Commons yesterday, asking Ministers what recent discussions had taken place on association to the EU’s Erasmus and Erasmus Plus programmes.
Ministers, however, declined to support allowing students access to Erasmus once again, despite the UK’s hastily conceived “Turing Scheme” intended to replace it offering only a fraction of the funding support which was previously available under Erasmus.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Richard Thomson MP said:
“There is a real willingness across the House and the European Union for the UK once again to participate in Erasmus and Erasmus Plus, so the Minister’s refusal is incredibly disappointing.
“If the Minister genuinely believes that we are better together, surely our academic and scientific communities would be even better together if we were back exactly where we belong: at the heart of those hugely beneficial European programmes.”
Commenting afterwards, Mr Thomson added:
“The real losers in all of this are Scotland’s students and research community, who have seen their access to the internationally-acclaimed Erasmus Scheme taken away by Brexit and their re-admission blocked by the UK Government and are instead faced with a poor imitation of what they once had with a fraction of the funding.
“The Turing Scheme does not cover tuition fees for UK participants undertaking a study placement abroad. Instead, the UK Government expects tuition fees to be waived by host institutions for those participating in the new scheme.
“Another difference is that the Turing Scheme will only fund student mobilities - there is no funding for staff exchanges, youth services exchanges, or funding for partnerships and collaborative projects, which were very important elements of Erasmus.
“Scotland’s young people are being short-changed and have seen their opportunities narrowed by this Conservative Government and their Brexit obsession. It was in the best interests of students that the Prime Minister insisted on the UK re-joining Erasmus, but instead he has created his own scheme that makes it more difficult for students to take their studies further afield.”
Photograph attached shows Richard Thomson MP in the House of Commons Chamber.