As a UK based European Studies academic association, we note with concern, as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the end of January, the lack of clarity surrounding the future of Erasmus funding, raising the prospect that the UK may not be part of the next Erasmus cycle scheduled to run from 2021 to 2027.

Since 1987, more than 200,000 UK students have benefitted from the scheme (many from the universities of our members), either studying or working in EU countries on the Erasmus exchange programme, advancing their language skills and immersing themselves in the culture of their country of study. It has also enabled university, college and school staff to share best practice in teaching, including many of our members. Withdrawing from the Erasmus scheme would deprive thousands of UK students access to the funding that this unique opportunity offers, serving to undermine the great benefits that the scheme offers in terms of social mobility.

In the UK, according to data compiled by the European Commission in 2019, only 32% of 15-30 year-olds in the UK stated they are able to read or write in more than one language. In all other EU countries the percentage was between 71% and 99%. Not remaining part of the Erasmus Plus scheme would only serve to weaken further the UK’s position as the country faces the economic challenges posed by withdrawing from the EU.

As an association, we urge the government to ensure that remaining part of the Erasmus Plus programme in the future 2021 to 2027 cycle is a key priority in the negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Dr Nick Startin, Dr Maria Garcia, Dr Jocelyn Mawdsley and Dr Katharine Wright (UACES Officers)