A petition to put pressure on the government to protect the UK’s role in the EU’s Erasmus scheme has received over 26,000 signatures.
MPs voted against the Liberal Democrats’ amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would have required the government to negotiate full membership to the EU’s Erasmus+ education and youth programme.
The vote has caused a backlash among the British public, and many are sharing the petition or expressing their outrage on social media pages.
Among the individuals to assert her opposition to the government’s decision is Dr Anna K. Bobak, a fellow at Stirling University, who tweeted: “Apparently continuing Erasmus is not a priority for the British Government after Brexit. Fostering student exchange, cultural diversity, and widening horizons are not important enough. Erasmus is not just a ‘gap year’, it’s an enormous learning opportunity.”
Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is an EU-funded programme which organises student exchanges across the continent. Exchanges enable students to either study part of their degree or undertake a work placement in another European country.
Since students are given funding for living costs by the programme and are not required to pay tuition fees for their overseas studies, individuals from a range of backgrounds are given the opportunity to develop the key life skills which come from living and working abroad. Funding support is also available for students with physical, mental, or health-related conditions.
Layla Moran, the Oxford MP who pushed the amendment, said of the programme: “The EU has achieved something our parents could only dream of: making studying abroad fashionable and affordable.
“The benefits are huge: learning a new language, picking up skills and work experience, building lifelong friendships and providing a huge boost to your confidence and independence. Without Erasmus, the opportunity to study abroad is only available to a select few.”
Oxford is one of the many UK institutions which makes use of Erasmus to support their own students while studying abroad, as well as receiving a number of incoming students from across Europe.
The petition is sponsored by Scram News and can be found on the Action Network website at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/save-erasmus.