Blow to bright youngsters

One effect of Brexit is that students from the UK will no longer be able to take part in the Erasmus exchange scheme which enabled them to study at universities in Europe.

The Government is proposing the alternative Turing scheme, enabling exchanges with universities in other parts of the world, but details and funding ar not yet clear.

Focus team member John Hoar has written to Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage protesting at the withdrawal from Erasmus. John writes:

Dear Caroline

The EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (1,246 pp) could not have been properly scrutinised in Parliament in such a short time. It raises the likelihood of a whole range of errors and omissions being discovered years hence.

Although the Agreement did not mention Erasmus by name, I understand that the UK will not participate further, to be replaced by the Turing Scheme. Yet in January 2020 the Prime Minister said that we would remain a partner. I was a lecturer to many European students, including Erasmus students, at Southampton Solent University and City University, London.

Although the net cost was cited as the reason for leaving Erasmus, we all know that where there is political will, money is found. So we are left wondering the real reason why the Government doesn’t want to continue with Erasmus.

This seems similar to the decision by Cameron to deny 16 and 17 year-olds the vote in the 2016 Referendum, i.e. but it is their future! Shamefully, Cameron thought it might set a precedent for general elections, because of young people’s support for Labour. (Tim Shipman, All Out War, p89). How do you sell these ideas to the Young Conservatives?

One interpretation for the decision to quit Erasmus is that the Government is trying to minimise the interchange of bright young people between the EU and UK.

If this is the case, then it is a particularly mean-spirited and isolationist decision, unless you can convince me that there are more worthy reasons.

Sending exchange students overseas by air is contrary to efforts to stem climate change, when there are excellent European universities a train ride away.