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Resecuring Erasmus+: Scottish government to create new study abroad programme

By Kimberley Mannion

The Scottish Education Exchange Programme aims to regain a place for Scotland in the Erasmus+ programme.

The new “Programme for Government” for the parliamentary year of 2021 to 2022 set out by the Scottish government includes a commitment to developing a new strategy for international education. 

The exact details of the plan are not laid out, but it has been said it will “promote Scotland’s education offer globally, increase the number of international students, and maintain our links with the EU”. A Scottish Education Exchange Programme will also be launched, with the aim of facilitating study abroad exchange programmes for both students and staff, and ultimately resecure a place for Scotland in the Erasmus+ programme, which is no longer running following the UK leaving the European Union. 

The programme states that “the UK’s exit from the EU risks damage to Scotland’s international standing, and reduces opportunities for Scottish students to travel and study in Europe”. 

Mary Senior, an official from the University and College Union (UCU) Scotland, commented: “It’s good to see the development of a strategy for international education along with a new Scottish Education Exchange Programme within today’s programme for government. It’s vital that we restore the reciprocal educational exchange offer for students and staff that was lost with Brexit and the discontinuation of Erasmus in the UK. Today’s proposals should be a first step to ensuring Scotland continues to provide international mobility for learners, staff and ideas.”

The commitment from the Scottish government goes beyond the UK wide plan announced last year: the Turing Scheme. An attempt at replacing the Erasmus+ scheme will offer a global study and vocational training programme. The Turing Scheme has been called “disappointing” by some, as it only provides funding for UK students outbound to other universities across the world, with no funding for incoming international exchange students, which Erasmus+ covered. Critics say this, alongside expensive visa costs, will make UK universities unattractive for international exchange students. 


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