Following the publication of the Government’s Brexit negotiating strategy, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran MP has warned that the UK “has one foot out of the door” on Erasmus.
Section 21 of the document reveals that the UK will “consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ [after 2021] on a time-limited basis, providing the terms are in the UK’s interests.”
This suggests that the UK may seek looser membership of Erasmus as a ‘partner country’, which would mean less funding for British universities and colleges to offer student and staff exchanges. Instead, they would be reliant on their partners in EU member states to manage projects and funding on their behalf.
Universities have warned that partner country status will mean fewer opportunities to study abroad, higher costs, less influence over the future of the programme and a possible cap on the number of students who are able to take part.
Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to maintain full, ‘programme country’ status in Erasmus after 2021, playing a full part in the exchange programme and contributing to its budget.
Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, Layla Moran MP said: “This will be a disaster for young people. Boris Johnson told us that there is ‘no threat to the Erasmus scheme’ but now he’s revealed that the UK has one foot out of the door.
“Instead of ensuring that our universities remain open, international and outward looking, these proposals show that Brexit means going it alone. Instead, the UK will presumably waste millions on a replacement scheme that won’t match Erasmus’ reputation or size.
“We have a fight on our hands to save Erasmus. Liberal Democrats will continue leading this charge to stop the Conservatives recklessly taking us out of this and other vital EU programmes.
“Erasmus has achieved something our parents could only dream of: the chance to live, work and study abroad at an affordable price. We must not let Boris Johnson weaken our universities and limit young people’s horizons.”