UK students worried about loss of Erasmus

Students abroad on Erasmus exchanges on October 31 have been told that their funding and placements can continue in the event of an abrupt no-deal exit.

28 August 2019
By Oliver Rowland

However, the scheme will not be available for those wanting to take part afterwards.

The EU has guaranteed continued funding for ongoing schemes on Brexit day and the UK has also made a guarantee to any UK students whose bids for Erasmus placements are successful up to the end of 2020.

The Department for Edu­cation (DfE) said “successful” refers to bids approved by the EU Commission, which will not be possible after Brexit unless the EU agrees that the UK can remain in the scheme.

This is not expected to be in place in the case of a no-deal.

The DfE said the UK values international exchange in education and wants to explore possible options to continue in some form.

Usually, full participation in the Erasmus+ programme is limited to EU countries and a handful of others (certain candidates for EU membership or members of the wider EEA).

Institutions in other partner countries may take part but only at the initiative of one of the full participants. Also, some elements, including work placements, are not available.

France is the top destination for British students and the UK is popular with students from France.

Thousands head in each direction annually.

In the case of a deal nothing would change during the transition year to the end of 2020 and there would be talks during this period as to possibilities of continued participation.

Chloé Lake, an Exeter University student on an Erasmus-funded work internship in France in her third year of a French and Russian degree, said: “Language-learning is on the decline in the UK so it’s a real shame that programmes like this won’t be getting funded. I know many people like myself who couldn’t afford it otherwise.

“No one applies for a language course thinking they won’t be able to do their year abroad.”

Chloé, 20, found her placement with Taittinger champagne in Reims through her own research. The university, which also has a database of jobs, helped with the paperwork to obtain an Erasmus grant to help with living expenses.

“My job here is in the export department and I’m dealing with distributors who want to visit and talk about potential deals.  It’s stressful but it’s a good experience,” she said.

“I wanted to do something different. I was tired of writing essays every day. I’d never been to France for long but it’s not too much of a shock – I’m enjoying it. I like a change, but the language aspect is a challenge.

“There are so many more nuances than I realised.”

She receives a modest level of pay for her work but could not have done the year without the grant. She had been worried because the university had said her funding was uncertain.

“Thankfully the university had offered to fund everyone’s placements for this year. After that, I don’t know what people will do.

“It’s such a shame for people one or two years behind.

“I heard students talking about it all the time.

“Most students are also worried for their futures. A lot want to work abroad or for international businesses. I could have just moved to anywhere in the EU and started a new life but now it’s not the case.”

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