MPs vote to jeopardise Erasmus programme a “tragedy”

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MPs yesterday blocked a clause which would have required the Government to seek to negotiate the continuation of the Erasmus programme.

The Erasmus programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is an EU funded scheme that organises student exchanges and according to the EU Commission, between 2014 and 2020, will give 3.7% of young people in the EU a chance to study, train, volunteer or gain professional experience abroad.

344 MPS voted against the clause, with 254 voting in favour.

Green Party MEP for the East of England, Catherine Rowett said:

“As someone who has worked in higher education for many years, I have seen the benefits that these kind of exchanges offer to the students I taught, both UK students and those coming from other universities abroad to enrich our classroom debates here. The opportunity to experience new cultures, languages and new learning environments is now sadly in jeopardy for UK students. It was especially precious to me that the Erasmus scheme encouraged students to explore the heritage of Europe and to build friendships with those who speak another language and think different thoughts. This is a real tragedy”

Figures from Universities UK International show that between 2014 and 2018, thousands of students from universities in the East of England participated in the Erasmus programme for study or work, including 799 from the University of Cambridge, 427 from the University of Essex and 347 from the University of East Anglia.

Catherine Rowett MEP continued:

“It is shameful that the government is curtailing the options for the next generation, especially given that the vast majority of current and future students had no say in the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU. Without programmes like Erasmus, I fear that the option of studying abroad will be available only to the very wealthy, whose opportunities are already so much greater. This is a massive step backwards for the UK.”

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