On 10 February 2021, ACA organised an internal webinar for member organisations to exchange with Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) on the future of cooperation in higher education and student mobility post-Brexit. This was an excellent opportunity to learn, amongst others, the latest plans for the launch of UK’s Turing Scheme. It was also an occasion to take stock of reactions from the higher education sectors in many Erasmus+ programme countries to the UK’s withdrawal from the Erasmus+ programme and their expectations for future cooperation, particularly over student mobility. The following high-level representatives of three ACA members were part of the panel along UUKi Director Vivienne Stern:
- Jakob Calice, Managing Director, Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalisation (OeAD)
- Stephan Geifes, Director, Erasmus+ National Agency, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
- Rúna Vigdís Guðmarsdóttir, Director, Erasmus+ National Agency, Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannís)
with many other experienced colleagues contributing during open discussions.
Some of the key take-aways of this exchange include:
- With the UK being an important partner for higher education cooperation of many European countries, the decision of the British Government to withdraw from Erasmus+ was unanimously received with great disappointment, both by ACA member organisations and by the higher education sectors in their respective countries.
- Many European countries hope for a supranational solution to be found to the loss of support available for European students to study in the UK – the direct consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from Erasmus+ and of the design of the Turing Scheme as an exclusive outgoing mobility programme, without an incoming mobility component.
- Concern was expressed also for the full loss of support for staff mobility with the UK – also covered previously through the Erasmus+ programme, while the new Turing Scheme does not cover staff mobility at all. This was an essential component for the training, for example, of English language teachers of many other European countries.
- There is confirmed interest among ACA members for further information on the functioning of the Turing Scheme, particularly information which is tailor-made for partner countries and institutions abroad, so that national-level agencies can support and inform their higher education institutions efficiently. One of the key related topics which must be addressed is the issue of fee waiver mechanisms for credit mobility with the UK.
While acknowledging the complexity of the situation, its political ramifications and the endeavour to ensure fair treatment amongst Erasmus+ partner countries, ACA would welcome a swift and clear response from the European Commission on what will be possible (and what will not) in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027. The higher education sector needs this clarification, as the current situation is challenging for sustaining cooperation.
ACA looks forward to continuing this exchange with UUKi and UK partners and to supporting cooperation in higher education through similar peer-learning future events.