Does Erasmus have a post-Brexit future?
The Government may have softened a handful of its harsher immigration policies for international students, but for students looking to get involved in the Erasmus programme, the future is still unclear.
Questions have arisen surrounding what the relationship between the UK and the EU will be like after Brexit, particularly in terms of the mobility of citizens and access to EU schemes, like Erasmus.
Should a deal be negotiated, Erasmus would continue during a transition period and its future discussed as part of a new trade agreement.
If a no-deal Brexit occurs, the situation becomes more complex. The UK will have a third country status, and any EU nationals entering the country for three months or more will have to register under the Government’s proposed temporary immigration system. This is known as European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR). Any individual who plans to stay after 31 December 2020 will be required to gain a subsequent visa.
For those who are already participating in the scheme when the UK leaves the EU, they will be entitled to complete their programme. This includes planned future study in the UK.
The UK government has also stated it will underwrite Erasmus grants arranged by the exit date. However, the underwriting would only cover UK institutions and not cover funding committed to partners and participants in other member states.
In addition, this underwriting relies upon partnering institutions to agree to continue the Erasmus project, even though the UK would no longer be a member of the EU programme.
Universities must open dialogues with the partners and secure agreements sooner rather than later, as collaboration is vital to the Erasmus scheme’s future in the UK.
For universities advertising Erasmus courses, short term contingency approaches must be considered until a decisive result happens. This could include:
• Keeping up communication with international partners
• Exploring alternative placements
• Assessing disclaimers and exclusion clauses
As long as universities have followed the guidance given and have attempted to get other institutions to commit as partners, then a no-deal scenario will likely be judged as outside of their control, ensuring they are protected by disclaimers.
However, although reassuring for universities, this still leaves many students in the disappointing position of being unable to study abroad, with Government alternatives unlikely to be to the same standard as Erasmus.