WHEN law student Sarah Cowie spent a year studying abroad, it was an opportunity she believed would still be there in the future.

Now Brexit has meant she no longer qualifies for a crucial Erasmus loan which she planned to use to fund a masters course in European and global law at a Barcelona university. The loan she was entitled to two months ago – up to the value of €12,000 – is no longer available to Scottish students.

The 21-year-old, from Aboyne, is facing having to find alternative sources of funding so she can achieve her goal. She said: “I do a law and Spanish degree, so I had to go abroad in my third year and I loved it.

“Studying law there made me want to continue studying internationally and international law particularly.

“I just assumed that was an opportunity that I would be able to continue pursuing.”

She added: ”I applied for a masters loan in good faith, before the Brexit transition period ended, having been told that Erasmus+ programmes were secure.

“While this is incredibly frustrating, I’m just one of tens of thousands who are being put at a real disadvantage. Like most young people, I see my future as a European but Brexit is limiting my chances to live, study and work abroad.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded the decision by UK ministers to leave the Erasmus programme – used by more than 2000 students and young people in Scotland every year – as an act of “cultural vandalism”.

More than 140 European Parliament members wrote to the European Commission urging officials to explore ways of keeping Scotland in the programme, but this was ruled out by the EU earlier this month.

The UK Government has set up the £100 million global Turing Scheme to replace Erasmus, which is due to open for applications next month.

However academics have raised concerns it is focusing on promoting links with countries outside Europe, to help build links with potential trading partners such as Australia or the US.

Cowie, who is in her final year at the University of Glasgow studying for an LLB in Scots Law and Spanish Legal Studies, said she was not sure what money would be available through the replacement scheme.

“I am now looking for other funding opportunities – it might have to be a private loan,” she said. “Unfortunately it is going to be a lot more difficult.

“It is a tragedy these opportunities have been taken away, particularly for those from families and backgrounds that won’t be able to afford to do any of these things without the Erasmus scheme in place.

“And it prevents students from being able to come here as well in the same way.”

Fergus Mutch, SNP candidate for Aberdeenshire West, said: “The narrow-minded, insular decision to crash out of the scheme is a tragedy, but it was also an active choice on the part of the Tories. And they lied. Boris Johnson swore blind that Erasmus wasn’t under threat.

“How dare they limit the opportunities of future generations in this way?”