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Turing Scheme: Erasmus Holds Lessons for Global Britain


Failure to learn from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme risks designing a replacement that falls short of its potential.

The EU-UK trade deal which came into force on 1 January 2021 ends the UK’s participation in Erasmus+, the EU’s largest education, training, youth and sports programme. The UK will not be signing up to the programme’s next seven-year cycle, beginning in 2021, meaning that British young people – as well as teachers, university administrators, youth workers and others – have lost the right to apply for funds to study, learn, volunteer and travel in the European Union – and a number of non-EU countries – while European youth are missing out on the same opportunities in the UK. The UK government’s decision itself is not up for discussion in this piece, our concern instead is ensuring the proposed successor to Erasmus+ achieves its full potential.   

Its replacement, the Turing scheme, is a £100 million fund enabling British students to work and study abroad. The scheme aims to provide funding for 35,000 students to embark on exchanges and placements outside the UK and is projected to start in September 2021. Much of the rhetoric surrounding the scheme frames it as an emancipatory move for the UK universities sector, replacing a flawed and limited programme, but such criticism largely misunderstands the reality of Erasmus. Failure to learn the right lessons from the EU programme could mean the Turing scheme misses its opportunity to promote vital exchange between British young people and the rest of the world.

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