Ben Hayward March 22nd
2021

The Welsh government has announced it will launch a new international exchange programme after the UK government withdrew from Erasmus following the end of the Brexit transition period. 

The new scheme, which will run from 2022 to 2026 is aiming to send 15,000 Welsh students overseas and to welcome 10,000 participants from abroad to study or work, will receive £65m in funding from the Welsh government, reports The Independent. 

Following the decision from the UK to withdraw from Erasmus, thousands of students lost access to financial support for study abroad in all EU countries and others, including Norway, Iceland, Tunisia and Israel.

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Many students have since reported a raft of issues preventing them from completing - often mandatory - years abroad including spiralling costs confusion over visas and a lack of clarity from the government. 

The government instead rushed out the new Turing Scheme, however it has now emerged that it will not fund tuition or travel costs as well as slashing the living allowance compared to Erasmus. 

Announcing the Welsh government’s new plans, first minister Mark Drakeford, said: “This is a down payment on our young people’s futures, offering opportunities to all, from all backgrounds.

“Securing these opportunities is particularly important in the context of the difficulties experienced by young people and learners across Wales as a result of the pandemic.”

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Kirsty Williams, the Welsh education minister, said: “We have been clear that international exchange programmes, which bring so many benefits to participants, as well as their education providers and wider community, should build on the excellent opportunities that the Erasmus+ programme offered.

“Our students and staff are vital ambassadors for us overseas, promoting the message that Wales is an inviting destination for students and partners across the world, and their education and cultural awareness are improved in many ways as a result of spending time abroad – just as our education providers are enriched by students and staff visiting Wales to study and teach.”

Talks have also been held between higher education institutions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to build on plans which would see students from Northern Ireland given access to Erasmus by allowing them to temporarily register with Irish colleges.

Scotland has also said it is looking into alternatives, with Richard Lochhead, the Scottish minister for further and higher education, labelling the Turing scheme a ‘poor shadow’ of the EU programme.

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