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Writing in The Herald, Professors Jim Murdoch and John Finlay argue for Scotland to establish its own Erasmus alternative claiming the UK's Turing scheme is "highly likely to fail".

In a joint article published in The Herald, Professors Jim Murdoch and John Finlay from the School of Law argue that Scotland must form their own Erasmus alternative as the new Turing scheme is “highly likely to fail”. 

Despite assurances from the government throughout negotiations, the publication of the Brexit future relationship treaty revealed that the UK will withdraw from the Erasmus+ scheme, which offers mobility programmes for students in higher and vocational education, a decision described by Nicola Sturgeon as “cultural vandalism”. Between 2014 and 2018, 13,957 students from Scotland took part in an exchange, accounting for 20% of the UK’s outbound mobility. 

The scheme is set to be replaced by a nationally coordinated alternative dubbed the Turing scheme, costing £100m a year for 35,000 placements and targeting those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which the UK government argues Erasmus did not. Yet Murdoch and Finlay suggest that the failure of representation is a misconception; they cite that, within the Law department at the University of Glasgow, just under half of the undergraduates from under-represented socio-economic groups participate.

According to Murdoch and Finlay, there is one primary flaw of the new Turing scheme - there is no funding available for incoming students. Therefore, the ability to negotiate fee waivers and partnerships with leading global institutions is going to be highly restricted without reciprocity, especially given the lack of similar mobility schemes outside of Europe. 

Although the challenges for the Turing scheme are evident, Murdoch and Finlay fail to point to the alternative for Scotland. It has been suggested that it is possible for Scotland to bilaterally join Erasmus in the same way Northern Ireland has done. However, the feasibility of this has been challenged by Professor Cardwell of Strathclyde’s law department, as devolved administrations don’t have the ability to sign international agreements, which this would fall under, as well as the contention that it "undermines the new 'UK wide' Turing scheme."


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