In June of this new year, it’ll be eight years since the UK public voted in the landmark referendum that saw the country eventually leave the European Union.
Since then, the UK has left several EU institutions such as the single market and customs union, the common agricultural policy and the regional funding schemes that parts of the country relied on and, notably, Erasmus Plus.
There is substantial evidence to show that these actions have negatively affected our economy. Add to Brexit the economic impact of Covid, the recent cost-of-living crisis has blighted the UK worse than most western countries.
However, Rejoin campaigners hold out a little hope. On 4 December, the UK made plans to rejoin Horizon Europe, the economic bloc’s research and innovation funding programme, as an associate member this year. This will see us become available for funding on science programmes.
So the question is, if we can rejoin Horizon without rejoining the EU, is it possible to rejoin other schemes that’ll benefit the UK as well?
This is a question asked by the Young European Movement (YEM) when they launched the Embrace Erasmus campaign, seeking to rejoin the educational scheme set up by the EU which makes it easier for European students of the member states to go anywhere in the 27 countries and study at the university of their choice.
Erasmus and Turing: working together?
The UK launched its own version of Erasmus Plus, called the Turing scheme. While it does seek to allow UK students to study in whichever country they wish, the funding and reach of the programme pales in comparison to that of its EU equivalent.
Cecilia Jastrzembska, the head of events and national coordination for the YEM, told North West Bylines:
“Our team is incredibly proud to see our hard work on the Embrace Erasmus campaign paying off, with 25k signatures+ and counting. The loss of Erasmus wasn’t just fiscal, but cultural, and this type of loss is incalculable. Generations of students continue to miss out on the opportunity to broaden their horizons, forge career-boosting connections and form long-lasting friendships, given that students cannot now come to the UK, but solely the inverse through the Turing scheme, which is no substitute. With the EU-UK relationship growing ever stronger and appetite for closer cooperation increasing, we are confident that there is a clear way back to Erasmus.
“Last week, YEM hosted their campaign launch event in parliament with Alyn Smith MP, British Youth Council representative and the UK Young Ambassador to the European Youth Forum, Mourizio Cuttin, Colm Markey MEP and Natalie Loiseau, MEP and chair of the subcommittee on security and defence plus delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, to resounding success.
“Back in early 2020, Boris Johnson insisted that the scheme was not under threat, yet then failed to reach a deal on the cost of membership and instead withdrew the UK from the scheme. Students and universities have been hit hard by the withdrawal, with Universities UK International, quoting Erasmus as giving a £243mn net benefit to the British economy. The Turing scheme, fraught with ambiguity and having a completely different structure, is no substitute. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, however; it would make far more sense to rejoin Erasmus and keep Turing operating, albeit with a structure that gives students and universities more certainty on continued participation.”
Have a listen to the latest Bylines Network podcast episode where we explore how Brexit has affected the young.
We also thank you for listening to our podcast since our soft relaunch earlier this year and we do hope you continue to listen in 2024.