Since 1987, the Erasmus Exchange Programme has enabled students within Europe to study abroad in over 5000 higher education institutions across 37 different countries.

With 53% of UK university students studying abroad through the programme, it is of great concern that this widely successful programme may not be able to continue should Brexit negotiations fail.

As Brexit negotiations press on, after the UK has already sought an extension from the EU, it is understandable that there is no clear guideline for how, or if, the Erasmus Exchange Programme will continue. Should the UK leave with some form of deal, arrangements for Erasmus will be able to be negotiated.

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At present, students can study freely in 37 countries under the Erasmus Exchange Programme.

However, should the UK leave with no-deal, the possibility of Erasmus severing its ties with the UK after departure becomes a much greater possibility. Due to its importance for many degrees, and vocational training, the government have been keen to ensure the continuation of the programme. Should a no-deal Brexit occur, individual bilateral agreements will need to be made to create new exchange programmes which can ensure the UK’s position as a global leader in education is not compromised.

With Universities such as the University of Birmingham sending up to 350 students abroad on the Erasmus programme, it is imperative that to remain a global leader in education, the future of this programme is secured by government. However, with ‘Brexit day’ growing ever closer, E future remains more uncertain than ever.

Joshua Williams | I Am Birmingham
The University of Birmingham sends up to 350 students abroad each year on the Erasmus exchange programme.

In this, the government has ensured that any student currently in Europe as part of this year’s Erasmus cohort will continue to be funded. However, should a no-deal Brexit occur before agreements for the next academic year have been finalised, then the government would need European agreement to keep taking part.

This may severely damage both UK students planning to go to EU countries, and EU nationals wishing to study in the UK. In a bid to avoid this, the government has stated that it wishes to negotiate with the European Commission to try to secure the 2019-20 programme, however those negotiations cannot start until after the UK leaves.

With the future of the programme dependent on the next stage of negotiations, little security for the programme can be assured by government or Erasmus itself. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has continued to provide up-to-date information on contingency planning for those traveling and living within Europe to mitigate the negative impacts of the programmes uncertainty.

Information relating to contingency planning for those travelling and living in Europe has been made available here.

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