Erasmus replacement scheme launched online

The decision to withdraw from the Erasmus scheme in light of the UK leaving the European Union left many people bereft. Today, new measures aimed at attracting more overseas students, boosting access to global student exchanges, and supporting international education partnerships have been announced.

Following the announcement in December of the new £110 million Turing scheme, a new website has gone live with funding and eligibility details for universities, colleges and schools to prepare for bids to open in Spring. The pioneering scheme will support students from across the UK and from all backgrounds to take advantage of the benefits of studying and working abroad from September 2021.

To help provide opportunities for more people, the scheme will look to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The updated International Education Strategy, led by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), will work alongside the scheme, focused on supporting the education sector to recover from the pandemic by boosting global growth opportunities.

This updated strategy reaffirms the Government’s commitment to increase the amount generated from education exports, such as fees and income from overseas students and English language teaching abroad, to £35bn a year, and sustainably recruit at least 600,000 international students to the UK by 2030.

It also outlines plans for a new international teaching qualification (iQTS) so teachers around the globe can train to world-leading domestic standards and support growing international demand for high quality teaching. It also highlights recent changes including streamlining application processes and boosting job prospects for international students.

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, has stated:

“In these unprecedented times, having a proactive global education agenda is more important than ever so we can build back better from the pandemic. Our world-class education is a vital part of our economy and society, and we want to support universities, schools, colleges and all aspects of the education sector to thrive across the globe.

We are committed to making sure our students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can benefit from studying and working abroad. Working with the British Council, we will open up the globe to our young people, and I look forward to seeing the exciting and enriching opportunities the Turing scheme will bring.

I am also pleased to launch initiatives to enhance the experience of international students at our universities, from the moment they apply, to the first steps of their careers.”

Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP, said:

"The UK offers world-class education. Thanks to our global reputation for excellence and strong presence in international markets, our education exports - from EdTech to transnational education - reached £23.3 billion in 2018.

I’m proud to lead the Department for International Trade’s education work, as our International Education Strategy aims to help the sector recover from the impacts of the pandemic. It’s vital we help the UK’s world-renowned education industry to build back better by exporting our brilliant goods, services, skills and innovation across the globe.”

The International Education Strategy is supported by the Government’s ‘Education is GREAT’ trade promotion campaign, which represents the UK’s offer of education provision to prospective international students or trade partners in other countries. As part of the campaign, DIT has developed a virtual programme to support the global recovery of the education sector’s international activity.

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, has stated:

“I am very supportive of the International Education Strategy, which represents the next step in a joint effort by Government and the education sector to build on the international success of our education system and our attractiveness to international students. This approach has delivered real benefits already, including the introduction of the graduate route, and improvements to the visa system. Despite a very difficult year, interest in UK study has grown as a result.

The strategy is not only about attracting students to the UK. We particularly welcome the launch of the Turing Scheme, which will create new opportunities for students in UK universities to gain valuable international experience. We know these opportunities enable graduates to develop the skills employers need, and that the benefits are most pronounced for those from less advantaged backgrounds.

We look forward to continuing to be partners, working with our members, Government and others across the sector, to deliver the strategy.”

Colin Riordan, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, said:

“The government’s commitment to outward mobility for UK students is very much to be welcomed. The new Turing scheme will help our students achieve more in their degrees and become more employable, but the benefits are more than economic. Anybody who is involved in outward student mobility knows that spending time abroad can be a positively life-changing experience for our students.

Studying abroad enhances their intercultural awareness, their language skills, their tolerance and their professional networks. It also boosts confidence, self-awareness, independence, curiosity, flexibility and adaptability. The focus on widening participation in Turing is a major positive. The UK has never had its own, government-funded outward mobility scheme. Turing presents a historic opportunity to shape our own destiny, and we should seize it.”

Some institutions have speculated whether this scheme is comprehensive enough to replace Erasmus. In December last year, the vice president in charge of Europe at the University of Warwick, Seán Hand, said that “there will be a relative loss of income for British universities, but from a diplomatic and ambassadorial point of view, the loss is invaluable.”