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Britain mourns the end of the Erasmus project after Brexit



After his Scottish university was closed in the spring due to the coronavirus, forcing him to study at home, Jack Boag dreamed of the upcoming academic year: staying refreshed during a semester abroad at the University of Amsterdam .

However, after the UK and Europe finally reached a Brexit agreement, his hopes of participating in the EU-wide student exchange program-Erasmus (Erasmus) were dashed. As part of the announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK will withdraw from Erasmus on the grounds of high costs.

“For me, Erasmus is the most direct benefit of European cooperation,” said Mr. Boag, a 20-year-old student of History and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen. “It’s gone.”

For many young people in the UK, the decision to withdraw from Erasmus is just the latest step in the continued erosion of this possibility since the UK voted to withdraw from the European Union in 2016. Once able to study and work anywhere in the European Union without a visa, young British people will now be treated as people from any other country outside the group when applying for education programs or jobs.

The withdrawal is also a blow to Britain’s boasting universities. This is a powerful symbol of Britain’s soft power in Europe and the world, and it is also an important source of income for the United Kingdom. The UK is still second only to the United States as a destination for international students, but leaving Erasmus may prevent many EU students who may use the program as a way to education in the UK.

Although this may not affect well-known institutions such as Oxford or Cambridge, many lesser-known universities may suffer.

Many young people and scholars hope that the United Kingdom can continue to be part of the Erasas in a position that allows non-member states such as Turkey and Norway to participate. Mr. Johnson stated in January, “There is no threat to the Erasmus project.

As a result, his announcement on Thursday caused shock among the universities, angered diplomats, and frustrated British students and professors who benefited from the plan.

Sean Hand, the vice-chancellor for European affairs at the University of Warwick, the UK’s second largest university, said: “The income of British universities will be relatively reduced, but from the perspective of diplomacy and ambassadors, this loss is priceless. “Erasmus student from England.

One of Britain’s most popular plans to withdraw from the European Union, Erasmus, may be one of the most obvious signs of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, which clearly shows its vision for the future relationship with its former partner.

“Erasmus mus has opened people’s horizons and broadened people’s understanding of the world,” said John Obrennan, a professor of European studies at Maynooth University in Ireland, who leads the European integration project funded by Erasmus. . “If this is not the embodiment of European ideals, I don’t know what it is.”

Although bilateral agreements are still possible for exchanges between the UK and European universities, UK students will not benefit from the monthly grants provided by Erasmus, which is now officially called Erasmus+. For scholars and teachers, training or teaching abroad will also be more difficult.

The British University, the representative body of British universities, stated that students and scholars who receive funding before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 will be able to go abroad until the end of the 2021-22 academic year.

Since its launch in 1987, Erasmus has brought millions of people abroad for study exchanges, work arrangements or internships. Approximately 200,000 students participate in the program every year. Alumni are often satisfied with this experience, which they see as the most tangible form of European integration: a way to discover new cultures, learn other languages ​​and establish lifelong connections.

Paul James Cardwell, Professor of Law at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, said: “Erasmus is not only a well-known student exchange program, but also rooted in how the EU faces Thinking about unemployment and mobility.” The 1990s.

In the UK, half of the students studying abroad study through Erasmus. For many people, it shapes personal paths and provides a convenient way to connect with the European continent.

Ben Munster, a 25-year-old British freelance writer, studied in Italy in 2015 and then moved to Rome, calling Erasmus “the purest and most vivid expression of the Schengen dream”, referring to It is a passport-free travel zone in the European Union.

Natalia Barbour, a 22-year-old international communication student at the University of Glasgow, said she has wanted to participate since high school. She said: “This makes the university experience even more exciting.”

Mark Berry, a professor of music history at Royal Holloway University in London, said: “Everyone, including the professor, wins. He taught in the Netherlands through Erasmus in 2015.” There is a possibility. “

In 2019, the UK welcomed more than 30,000 students and trainees through the program.

Professor Cardwell of Strathclyde University said: “A lot of students come to the UK and have a positive experience.” “This is an important aspect of the UK’s soft power.”

British legislators who support staying in the plan wrote in a report last year that opting out would have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged people and people with medical needs or disabilities.

They also warned that it is difficult to replace it.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, according to the current 2014-20 Erasmus+ plan, the UK has donated approximately 1.8 billion euros (2.2 billion US dollars) and has received 1 billion euros.

Mr. Johnson said last week that a project named after mathematician Alan Turing would replace Erasmus+ and enable students to “enter the best university in the world.” Starting in September 2021, it will provide about 35,000 students with funds to study abroad at an annual cost of 100 million pounds. British professors and students from foreign universities will not be eligible to participate in the program.

However, the UK will still receive funding from the European Union’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020, which is the UK’s second largest recipient country.

British universities welcome the Turing Project, but other experts call it short-sighted.

Mr. Obrennan of Maynooth University said: “This will be achieved in 20 years.” “The UK miscalculated what it received from the program.”

Many universities have indicated that they will maintain close ties with Europe.

Mr. Hand of the University of Warwick said: “European universities do not want this connection to be broken, because it is very important for them to keep students coming to the UK.”

For the British alumni of the program, the end of Erasmus marks the end of an era – an era where they can not only study abroad easily, but also travel across Spain to learn skiing in Austria or music in Denmark Dancing at the festival.

“This is what Erasmus means: it taught me how to appreciate wine and cheese, and how to spend time socializing through hours-long lunches,” Katy Jones, 28, ) Said that he was a student of Eras’s student and went to France to run an English course in Lyon.

Mr. Boag is a third-year student in a four-year program in Aberdeen. He said he hopes to apply for postgraduate courses in continental Europe, but he is concerned that there are other obstacles that need to be clarified.

He said: “For Erasmus and many other things, Brexit is Pandora’s box.” “We don’t know what’s in it yet because we just opened it.”


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