By Jacques Picton, Second Year, Spanish and Portuguese
Now that we have officially left the EU, the government has yet again decided to make the UK a more inward-looking place, this time through cutting opportunities for students to travel abroad.
As a result of Brexit, we can no longer take part in the student exchange programme, Erasmus+, and instead we have a new, second-rate version: the Turing Scheme.
The initial budget for the Turing Scheme is £110 million. The scheme is intended to encourage global mobility. However, there has been no mention of how tuition fees, which vary considerably, will be covered. With Erasmus, students do not pay tuition fees to their overseas university and they receive a grant for living expenses. Currently, with the Turing Scheme it is expected that they will be waived at the Universities that take part.
The Turing Scheme website is your one-stop-shop for all the latest information about the UK’s new global programme for work and study abroad.— Turing Scheme UK (@TuringScheme_UK) February 11, 2021
Schools, universities and colleges can start applying from March: https://t.co/KXluRUmYPP #TuringScheme pic.twitter.com/2P3R1lZAS7
The UK government claims that the Turing Scheme will focus on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is similar to the Erasmus grant, that has been widening participation across all socio-economic backgrounds in through extra grant support, and additional money that has been made available to students from low-income households and those with disabilities.
While I think it is fantastic that this government does want to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds get the opportunity to go abroad, I don’t believe the predominant focus or aid given through the scheme should be aimed solely at those who are underprivileged.
When the NHS was founded in 1948 the idea was it would provide free service for everyone irrespective of their income, not just for the most vulnerable.
Many of the added benefits that Erasmus+ offered have been omitted from the Turing scheme
In my opinion this was part of the beauty of it and the government should be trying to replicate that success in this scheme. Placements and studying abroad should be supported by the government under this scheme. The Turing Scheme should give as many opportunities to as many people as possible, just as the Erasmus+ did.
Many of the added benefits that Erasmus+ offered have been omitted from the Turing Scheme, for example, the ability of staff from further education to go on Erasmus placements - the Turing scheme is only for students.
In the new scheme, organisations are expected to bid for funding in order to participate. This places the burden on individual institutions to set up exchange arrangements to replace Erasmus and will probably require a great deal of administration from those institutions.
European students will also need to hurdle the UK’s new visa system
The Turing Scheme is less appealing for institutions due to the lack of reciprocal funding for students to return to the UK, as on offer under Erasmus+.
To top it all off, European students will also need to hurdle the UK’s new visa system. This is truly devastating as young people who study abroad do so to develop a cosmopolitan, open and more rounded outlook on the world, as well as increased independence.
Not to mention the opportunities to learn languages and pursue an international career that can be gained as a result of studying or working abroad.
The Erasmus+ scheme not only supported British students going abroad, but also brought many students to the UK each year; students who spend money on food, accommodation, leisure, and contribute to the economy. But the spending power of international students is rarely discussed in this context.
Future incoming students will rely on arrangements between institutions, and will not receive the financial incentives, including the tuition fee waiver, that Erasmus provided which will inevitably lead to a decrease in the number of European students wanting to study in the UK.
Perhaps the scheme will ‘level up the UK’ as Gavin Williamson promises, and we will see the real value for money that he claims the scheme will offer. Regardless, I hope I am wrong about the Turing Scheme and I hope the possibility of going abroad doesn’t suffer because of it. I await with interest to see what the Turing Scheme will offer us.
Featured Image: Unsplash / Philip Mytorp
What are your thoughts on the Turing Scheme? Let us know!