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The future of Erasmus in a post-Brexit world

Written by Current Affairs, News

The Erasmus programme was established in 1987. Since then, the programme has allowed millions of students to incorporate living abroad into their educational and professional development. However, it appears that Brexit may bring this to an end.

Erasmus has become a staple for students seeking to expand their horizons. According to the BBC, in 2017, “16,561 UK students participated in Erasmus, while 31,727 EU nationals came to the UK.”

To better understand the impact Brexit might have on the programme, the Courier spoke to Dr Elena Katselli, Senior Lecturer and International Student Liaison Officer for Newcastle University’s Law School.

In 2017, “16,561 UK students participated in Erasmus, while 31,727 EU nationals came to the UK.”

BBC

Contributions of the Erasmus

Having acted as Erasmus Student Co-ordinator for a number of years, Dr Katselli can testify to the value the Erasmus programme has brought to the UK.

The whole idea of the Erasmus programme is to “bring together different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different educational systems”.

The programme has allowed UK-based students to “expand their horizons academically, but also culturally.” The whole idea of the Erasmus programme is to “bring together different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different educational systems.” Regarding how Brexit violates this pursuit, Dr Katselli referred to the importance of mobility, which is  “essential and fundamental, not for the sake of mobility, but because there is a well rooted belief that through mobility we become better in our disciplines.”

Moreover, the difficulties to overcome when living abroad help students learn how to “adjust to different environments.” Citing an increasingly competitive job market, it was also suggested that an experience abroad “translates into a stronger CV” and “adds value to the degree”, because it is “generally seen that students who participate in exchange programs become stronger academically.”

Students who choose the UK as their destination of exchange programmes help enrich the community. In fact, “having Erasmus students or any other international students is a significant asset to us as a law school but also to the university.”

Brexit as a deterrent

It was also discussed how Brexit could act as a deterrent for exchange students, given the implications of the country choice to turn away from international collaboration. Dr Katselli proposes that “EU citizens are asking themselves why should they be coming to the UK?”, when “they have 27 other countries to choose from.”

“There is a growing number of academic institutions across the EU who offer degree programs in English, and therefore I believe that students will prefer and will choose other countries as opposed to the UK.”

Dr Katselli, Senior Lecturer and International Student Liaison Officer, Newcastle University Law School

While the UK has a significant advantage due to being an English speaking country, “there is a growing number of academic institutions across the EU who offer degree programs in English, and therefore I believe that students will prefer and will choose other countries as opposed to the UK.”

Lack of funding

“I think that the funding enables students who were never able to afford or would never consider expanding their horizons […] to participate in exchange programs.”

Dr Katselli, Senior Lecturer and International Student Liaison Officer, Newcastle University Law School

More tangible effects of Brexit were approached. Despite the Department of Education stating a commitment to the programme through Brexit, Dr Katselli emphasises the “concerns that with Brexit the funding for the exchange students will disappear.” This move is likely to disproportionately impact students from lower income backgrounds, who rely on the funding provided by the Erasmus programme. Dr Katselli pointed out that this might have a larger effect on social mobility.

Katselli said: “I think that the funding enables students who were never able to afford or would never consider expanding their horizons […] to participate in exchange programs.” This allows them “to strengthen their CVs and career prospects”, making them more desirable to employers.

These concerns are substantiated by a report from the House of Lords EU Committee, which seem to indicate that a national program would hardly approach the scope of contributions of the current programme.

Last modified: 3rd March 2020

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