University of Glasgow. Photo: Pixabay

Brexit: MEPs want Erasmus grants for Scotland and Wales


Would it be possible to allow students from Scotland and Wales to still take part in the Erasmus+ exchange programme, despite Brexit? That’s the question 145 members of the European Parliament posed to the European Commission in a recent letter.

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At the end of December, the United Kingdom announced that it would no longer participate in the Erasmus+ programme because Prime Minister Boris Johnson finds it too expensive. He wants to launch a new exchange programme instead.

However, according to German MEP Terry Reintke, Scotland and Wales still want their students to have access to the Erasmus+ programme. MEPs have therefore sent a letter to the European Commission asking if it sees any possibility to facilitate student exchanges between Europe and the two aforementioned countries.

Neth-ER, an organisation that represents the interests of Dutch education and research in Brussels, reports that the MEPs’ letter also enquires whether the national governments of Scotland and Wales have been consulted about this matter before the decision to leave Erasmus+ was made.

The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While the British parliament in London decides on big issues like foreign policy and defence, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own ‘devolved’ national government.

The letter has been signed by more than a fifth of all MEPs. It is not yet clear whether it will be legally possible to keep the Erasmus+ programme available for students from Scotland and Wales, but the signatories are pinning their hopes on the fact that “education in the UK falls under the remit of the devolved governments”, according to Neth-ER.

Wales narrowly voted in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum. In Scotland, however, a clear majority of the population voted to remain in the EU. This has led Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon to call for another referendum on leaving the UK, which is to be held next year.

Most people in Northern Ireland would have also preferred to stay in the EU. Luckily, Northern Irish students who dream of spending a semester abroad at a European university have no need to worry. Ireland has promised to finance its northern neighbour’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme.


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