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Scotland and Wales may not remain in Erasmus+ after UK’s withdrawal

After nearly 150 Members of European Parliament signed an open letter to the European Commission asking them to identify an avenue though which Wales and Scotland could re-enter the Erasmus+ programme, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has determined that such an arrangement is not possible.  Von der Leyen’s office clearly laid out that the only way for regional devolved administrations in the UK (other than Northern Ireland, which has reached a bilateral agreement with Ireland) to remain in the Erasmus+ scheme is for Britain to fully return “as a whole, or not at all.” 

Von der Leyen issued a statement which stressed that the European Union had offered the United Kingdom “full association to the Erasmus+ programme in exchange for the standard financial contribution from third countries participating in Union programmes,” but the UK government repeated failed to take up the offer, pointedly framing this as a “decision made in London not to pursue association with Erasmus+. This decision follows the UK government’s launch of the Turing scheme, which will support outgoing student mobility for students registered at UK higher education institutions to many nations around the world.  The Turing scheme does not support possible incoming cohorts of students hoping to study at UK universities.   

Many members of the European Parliament expressed their dismay with the President’s decision, pledging to organise further debates on the topic to investigate alterative arrangements for Wales and Scotland to remain connected to the Erasmus+ programme, following the keen expression of interest from regional leaders in both devolved administrations.