In the midst of the ongoing Brexit debate, Falmouth University students are showing concerns for the fate of the Erasmus+ exchange programme which offers students the opportunity to travel and study abroad.
Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport that first began in 2014 and will run for seven years up to 2020. Many organisations within the EU are invited to apply for funding each year to participate in the programme, including universities such as Falmouth.
Amy Mansfield, a 3rd year Journalism student, spent a semester in Madrid in her second year through Erasmus+. She said, “Personally, my experience has had a really huge impact on my studies, it has even influenced what I have decided to base my dissertation on. It’s also just a fun and exciting experience to live somewhere completely different, it’s an opportunity like no other. It’s a shame to think that other students may not be able to take part in the Erasmus+ programme in the future.”
Aside from the opportunities the scheme offers to students wishing to study abroad, it also offers young people the chance to volunteer and gain work experience abroad, offers staff the chance to teach and train abroad, and allows UK organisation to collaborate with international partners. Equally, the scheme allows foreign students and staff to come to the UK for these opportunities as well.
Theresa Hüghes, an exchange student from Germany, came to Falmouth university in January to spend a semester here. She said, “I am on my Erasmus right now and I am enjoying it a lot. I have new interesting input at uni, meet lots of new people every day and I am continuously improving my English. It has already given me a lot just from being out of my comfort zone and living abroad, especially in growing as a person. It would be a shame if the scheme didn’t continue after Brexit because people would miss out on a lot! I also consider the intercultural student exchange to be very important for international relations.”
The fate of the UK remains uncertain as questions arise over a deal or no-deal Brexit. The government has issued a Technical Notice providing guidance on the UK’s expected participation in the current Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes if there were to be a no-deal Brexit.
The document states that the government will underwrite the funding for all successful bids submitted while we are still in the EU and this funding will continue for the lifetime of those particular projects. Although, this arrangement is wholly dependent on reaching an agreement with the EU that UK organisations can continue to be eligible to participate in the programmes post-exit.
Although the government has provided assurance for the Erasmus+ programme up till 2020, it still remains unclear as to whether the same opportunities will be available to youths post-Brexit.