Retain Erasmus after Brexit, say two thirds of Brits

Polling conducted for the British Council has revealed strong support for foreign exchange programs

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The Paris-Sorbonne University, which participates in the Erasmus+ scheme

Two thirds of Britons support the continued membership of foreign exchange programmes after the UK has left the European Union, new polling conducted for the British Council revealed this week.

Support is even higher among the young, with almost three quarters of 18 to 24 year olds backing the maintenance of programs such as Erasmus.

Since its establishment in 1987 Erasmus has provided funding for over three million students to live, work and study in another country for up to a year as part of their degree. Its £112 million budget is provided entirely by the EU, raising fears that the UK might be shut out after Brexit.

Jake Smales, a third-year Oxford student currently on an Erasmus funded placement in Rouen described the program as, “extremely beneficial to Oxford”.

He told Cherwell: “I think Erasmus funding is extremely important – for me it has enabled me to do things I would otherwise be unable to do. Without it, I couldn’t afford to live where I currently live as the salary I’m earning this year is only just enough to live with in a city.

“It means that I can actually save some money to help with the next stage of my year abroad, and that I don’t feel I’m missing out on experiences abroad which I otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy.”

Flora Hudson, a third-year student reading French and Russian at Exeter college, said: “Erasmus funding is indispensable to those doing a year abroad. The salary I received for my internship in Paris only covered just over half my rent, so without Erasmus funding the opportunity of doing an internship wouldn’t have been available to me. It would be devastating if future students didn’t have access to these funds.”

The Director of the Erasmus+ program, Ruth Sinclair-Jones, told the Independent: “The benefits of Erasmus Plus for the UK cannot be underestimated—it allows young people to broaden their horizons and to gain vital skills by studying or working abroad.

“To lose participation would be a huge loss to a generation that obviously values such opportunities – and the international experience that they bring.”

However Vote Leave, the official leave campaign during the referendum, has noted that many non-EU member states participate as full members of Erasmus, such as Iceland, Norway, Russia and Turkey.

The survey of 2,000 British adults was conducted by Populus and revealed that overall 69 per cent of the population believe we ought to remain as members of foreign exchange programs.