Blog: Erasmus+

30 November 2017

As MPs prepare to debate the future of student exchange programmes after the UK leaves the EU, our policy analyst Jo Burton blogs on the value of Erasmus+ for students and staff at Russell Group universities:

Giving students the opportunity to work and study abroad can help improve language skills, enhance cultural awareness, expose new methods of learning and working and increase independence and maturity. These are skills and experiences that are highly sought-after by employers and are vital to the UK’s future success. 

This afternoon, MPs will debate the future of student exchange programmes after the UK leaves the European Union. Since the 1980s, the main scheme that has allowed students to spend a period learning in a different culture is the EU’s Erasmus exchange scheme.

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Over 17,000 students from UK universities took part in the Erasmus+ programme in 2014/15, nearly half of whom were from Russell Group universities. At the same time, our members have welcomed students from across the EU who have chosen to come to the UK to study. These visiting students enhance diversity on campus and in the classroom.

The benefits for students of spending time overseas are significant. Graduates who took part in Erasmus+ are more likely to be in work than non-mobile students, and more likely to get on in the workplace. A recent survey of Erasmus+ graduates showed they were 44% more likely to hold managerial positions than their contemporaries.

Other EU reports have also shown students who spend time abroad through Erasmus+ also see a boost in personal and soft skills, self-confidence, intercultural understanding and maturity. University staff benefit from the scheme too. Erasmus+ funding supports staff to meet their peers in other countries face-to-face and strengthens the relationship between the partner institutions. It helps academics to gain a deeper understanding of other work practices and also provides the opportunity for support staff to collaborate.

The UK’s future participation in Erasmus+ is one of the issues that will be discussed when Brexit talks move on to the next phase. We hope the Government will secure a good deal for future UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme to enable continued valuable academic and cultural exchange for UK and EU students and staff.

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