Newcastle University has pledged up to £1.4 million in support of the Erasmus exchange program for the academic years 2020-2021. This has come after fears of the discontinuation of funds from the government in the event of a no deal Brexit, preventing future UK students from enrolling in the scheme.
The university’s decision to invest the £1.4m will support 400 students, entering their second year, in their studies abroad. In turn partner EU institutions will continue to support the exchanges regardless of Brexit outcomes. Professor Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor-Global, Newcastle University, a firm advocate of the Erasmus scheme said, “Studying abroad is an amazing experience, which can change the lives of students for the better in so many ways…It will also help us attract a diverse range of students into Newcastle.”
Erasmus, the higher education exchange program for student, teachers and institution, was founded in 1987 providing students with the unique opportunity to study, complete a work placement or work as a language assistant in one of the 36 European countries pledged to the scheme. At present 53% of UK university students who study abroad do so through Erasmus and in 2016-17 alone 16,561 UK students enrolled onto the scheme. Due to the uncertain conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, the future of the scheme seemingly hung in the balance, with only funding for the 2019-2020 academic year being secured by the EU. To complicate matters further, if the UK succeeds in leaving by 31 October then the UK will have left before the funding of the scheme for future years is approved by the EU.
Former postgraduate participant in the scheme Niklas Heilder, stated Erasmus “…enables students to get the very kind of experience that matters most in the professional life in the 21st century: international self-confidence and openness.” Bethany Mackay, a current undergraduate student, studying at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands said “… I can already see this will be a fantastic opportunity for me, both in terms of personal and educational development.”. To many, a future where the UK no longer participate in the scheme appeared bleak, yet with the promise of £1.4 million, from Newcastle University, the future and continuation of the scheme seems much more promising.