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Loss of Erasmus programme is a huge blow to students

By Kirsty Brown

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Universities Minister Richard Lochhead has expressed his profound disappointment at the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from the Erasmus Plus exchange programme and described the move as 'a huge blow'.

Annually over 2,000 Scottish students, staff and learners use the scheme.

Scotland attracts proportionally more Erasmus participants from across Europe - and sends more in the other direction - than any other country in the UK.

Through associated youth work projects the scheme is estimated to deliver at least £7 in value for every £1 it costs in public cash, and its value to the economy has been estimated to be worth nearly £34 million annually since 2014.

Students in Northern Ireland are to be given access to Erasmus, but the Brexit deal will now prevent Scottish students from participating.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The loss of Erasmus is huge blow.

"This is simply unacceptable and we are looking at alternative options.

“After years of discussions and meetings, the UK Government has made these decisions irrespective of the views of the Devolved Administrations.

"We found out from media reports more details of the UK’s alternative scheme which is a watered down and less well funded version of Erasmus and it’s not even an exchange program because there is no support for visits to Scotland.

“I have since spoken to my UK counterpart and expressed our profound disappointment that the UK chose to abandon Erasmus which plays such a key role in opening up opportunities and horizons for so many young Scots.

"Crucially, it is a scheme that brings different countries and nationalities together with massive cultural and educational benefits.

“I am seeking further clarification on what the new scheme looks like and how they intend to provide funding on a par with the amounts historically secured under Erasmus.

“We also need confirmation that they will ensure all those who currently benefit from the programme will be supported and crucially how the devolved nature of education would be protected under their new scheme and we will resist using the Internal Market Bill to foist an inferior UK scheme on Scotland.”

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