The UK will no longer take part in the Erasmus programme, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of students to study at some of Europe’s top learning institutions.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said it was a “regret” the UK had chosen not to take part, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the act as “cultural vandalism”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Erasmus student exchange programme – which had seen participants able to study across Europe – would be replaced by a worldwide scheme named after Bletchley Park code breaker Alan Turing.
Last year the prime minister said there would be “no threat” to the scheme.
A year ago the PM promised in the House of Commons that the #Erasmus scheme was safe in his hands. I was apparently “talking out of the back of my neck” for suggesting the disastrous outcome we have today. #UKEUDeal pic.twitter.com/Hv7DY4hXPT
— Douglas Chapman MP 🏴 (@DougChapmanSNP) December 24, 2020
A number of “flagship” programmes for research, including the Horizon initiative, will continue, described as a “sigh of relief” by one Scottish university source.
Dundee University deputy vice-principal Wendy Alexander had previously warned leaving the Horizon Europe programme would have been detrimental to the country’s economy, research facilities and scientific standing on the world stage.
Turing scheme for UK
Mr Johnson said it was a “tough decision” to pull out of the programme, for financial reasons.
He said: “We are doing a UK scheme for students to go around the world, it will be called the Turing scheme.
“Students will have the opportunity not just to go to European universities, but the best universities in the world.”
News needed of replacement scheme
Universities UK said the end of the Erasmus scheme in Britain is “disappointing” and called on the government to provide clarity on its replacement.
Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said: “While the announcement that the UK will now not be participating in Erasmus+ is disappointing, we are pleased that the prime minister has committed to a new UK programme to fund global mobility.
“We now ask the UK Government to quickly provide clarity on this Erasmus+ domestic alternative, and that it be ambitious and fully funded.
“It must also deliver significant opportunities for future students to go global, which the Erasmus programme has provided to date.”
She added: “It is positive that the UK and EU have reached a deal over a future trade agreement. We must continue to ensure that the UK remains an attractive study option for European students and a deal lays the foundation for continued cooperation.”