‘Goodbye Erasmus’: Brits express anger after UK votes against much-loved EU student scheme

Britons who have studied around Europe have expressed anger and incredulity after the UK parliament voted not to seek to negotiate to continue the Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit.

'Goodbye Erasmus': Brits express anger after UK votes against much-loved EU student scheme
Photo: Depositphotos

Conservative party MPs in the British parliament used their majority to block a clause which would have required Boris Johnson's government to negotiate the continuation of the programme, which allows British students to study in the EU and European students to study in Britain.

In other words continuing Erasmus after Brexit is not a main objective for the British government.

Erasmus has been in operation since the late 1980s and has allowed British students to study at universities in the EU member states for set periods of time.

Tens of thousands have taken advantage of the scheme and the small financial grants it offers to help students study abroad.

While the vote does not mean the UK won't participate in the Erasmus scheme or some similar exchange programme with EU universities in the future it has been taken as a kick in the teeth by pro-Europeans and those who took advantage of it.


The Local Sweden's deputy editor Catherine Edwards said: “I can't imagine where I'd be without Erasmus, but almost certainly not in Stockholm, working for the company I first interned with as a student in Rome 6 years ago… I hope the UK does *something* to give future students similar opportunities.”


The Lib Dem MEP Layla Moran, who tabled the clause said: “Let us remind ourselves what Erasmus does. It allows our young people to go abroad to European universities, to learn new languages, to meet new people, to put down some roots abroad and to build the international understanding that, in my view, is a big part of what it means to be British.

“When people who have used the scheme return and apply their skills, the economy is boosted. The scheme increases their chances of getting a job and increases their confidence and sense of independence – and Brexit ​puts all that under threat.”

The government's Junior Brexit minister, James Duddridge said that in the future the UK will be “open to maintaining and expanding cooperation in education” with the EU.

“We strongly believe… in the value of international exchange, not just European exchange, and it is very much part of our vision for global Britain to extend that concept,” he said.

The minister added that the talks on the “future relationship” between the EU and the UK, which will begin March will look at the possibility of the UK taking part in EU student exchange programmes.

But until then it was left to those on social media to speak up for Erasmus.


Member comments

  1. Not true. The Government can still negotiate with regard to the Erasmus scheme. The word to focus on is “required.” It is not the end of the scheme which you allude to.

  2. A (deliberately?) misleading headline, and inaccurate reporting of what happened in Parliament. The Govt opted only not to have its hands tied unnecessarily and has stated that it intends to negotiate continued membership of the scheme.

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