STUDENTS in Scotland are still feeling the stark impact of the loss of the Erasmus+ programme as a result of Brexit.

The scheme, which facilitated studying abroad for students, was replaced by the UK Government’s Turing Scheme – but it has faced criticism for falling short of what was previously on offer.

The Scottish Government is working on a Scottish Education Exchange Programme with pilot details due to be confirmed, while Wales has set up its own scheme already.

Olivia Macklin, a 3rd-year Economics student at the University of Edinburgh – the largest UK Erasmus+ institution pre-Brexit – warned that confusion over funding sources is impacting on students’ plans.

She said: “My study abroad plans have been changed by the replacement of the Erasmus scheme with the Turing scheme because of the uncertainty surrounding funding sources in the year that would have been my exchange year – the academic year 2022 to 2023.

“This all meant I didn’t feel I could take part in my year abroad because I was unsure where funding would come from.

“Links with the continent are crucial for a holistic education, particularly for people who have not had the opportunity to be abroad for example myself. I have the entirety of my life being educated in Scotland.

“I think it’s very important that we get that opportunity, and that the opportunity is made accessible for all students to experience life in another country, gaining that cultural experience and an understanding of how the world is connected. I would absolutely welcome plans that enable further Scottish partnership with educational institutions in the continent and around the world.”

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This sentiment is also felt by Eve Corrigan, a 2nd-year medical student at the University of Dundee.

She said: “I have always wanted to study abroad, it even affected my choice of university, to go somewhere with good international links.

“Funding is such a big issue in the decision to take the year away from Scotland and it’s such a good opportunity. Many of my friends have wanted to go abroad but haven’t been able to because of the lack of funding.

“Studying abroad has even affected the way I have voted. It is such a shame the government has not followed through on this.”

The Scottish and Welsh governments issued a joint statement outlining their support for bespoke replacements to Erasmus+ in January 2021, but only the Welsh government has since delivered its own replacement scheme – called Taith.

The Taith scheme that provides significantly higher funding to Welsh students has been allocated £65 million from the Welsh Government and is designed to run from 2022 until 2026.

Of this funding, Taith will provide £10m to Universities Wales to deliver the third phase of “Global Wales” a project to increase bilateral international partnerships and grow student numbers from Europe, India, North America and Vietnam.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The fact that students can no longer take part in the Erasmus scheme has been one of the most damaging consequences of Brexit for Scotland’s universities and colleges. Scotland rejected Brexit in 2016, yet young people are being denied educational opportunities open to generations before them.

“Over the summer, the Scottish Government has been working with partners to develop a one-year pilot Scottish Education Exchange Programme, to commence in 2023-24. Full details of the pilot will be confirmed in due course.

“The Scottish Government has no involvement in Eramsus+ funding allocations. As the body with responsibility for Erasmus+ in the UK, the British Council continued to work directly with recipients throughout the pandemic.” Graeme Dey MSP, Minister for Higher and Further Education; said Scottish Government officials are meeting monthly with Welsh counterparts.

He added “They will also engage with Cardiff University’s Taith team at appropriate stages in the programme development.”

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Willie Rennie MSP, the Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, called for Scotland to follow the example of Wales.

He said: “In Wales, thousands of young people are now able to take part in exchanges that allow them to study in countries across Europe. Sadly, their counterparts in Scotland have been denied those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for learning and building relationships.

“If the SNP were even slightly concerned about maintaining ties with Europe this would be a perfect way to show it, but we don't even have a pilot scheme in place yet.

“Scottish LibDems have been clear that as passionate pro-Europeans, we want to see our economic, social and educational ties to Europe rebuilt. At the moment, the SNP are doing even worse than the Brexiteers when it comes to enabling study abroad.”