CURRENTLY Britain benefits considerably from membership of the EU Erasmus+ exchange group which sees students from the UK spend time in European universities and vice versa and it seems that there are no concrete plans in the Brexit negotiations to extend membership after withdrawal.
Currently it costs Britain around £200 (€230) million annually to belong to the scheme but it is estimated that EU students who come to the UK spend £430 (€495) million on living expenses alone.
Some 85 per cent of all British colleges and universities are currently involved in Erasmus+ and their representatives believe that some 17,000 British students who use Erasmus for work placements and study would lose out, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds who would find it difficult to fund their expenses without it.
Although the Conservative Government has said that it wants to create a more even ‘playing field’ between the north and the south, this seems to be contradictory as those most likely to suffer could be young students from the north.
So far, the government has indicated that it “will consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time-limited basis, provided the terms are in the UK’s interests”.
Not only is there a potential loss of European students enrolling in UK places of education, many universities depend upon EU funding for research which can take years to complete and this, which comes through the EU Horizon programme, is also under threat, which would have a knock on effect on UK government national research targets.