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The Erasmus Programme, known officially as ‘Erasmus+’, began its current incarnation in 2014. Erasmus+ continues a range of European Union (EU) funding streams that have existed since 2007, such as the Socrates Programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme.

The Erasmus+ scheme provides funding for education, training and sport, with a particular focus on youth work, but it also provides funding for activities aimed at all ages. The EU sees these programmes as a means of addressing socio-economic issues that Europe may face like unemployment and social cohesion.

9,720 students in higher education in the UK participated in the 2017 ‘call’ (application period) for study placements abroad through the Erasmus+ scheme.

In 2017/18, the most popular host countries for study placements were Spain (2,220), France (2,049), Germany (1,302), Netherlands (812), and Italy (711).

The total value of all Erasmus+ projects funded in the UK has increased in each year from €112million in the 2014 ‘call’ to €145million in 2017.

The UK was the 8th highest participating country in the programme in 2017.

31,877 students came to the UK (all study and work placements) in the 2017 ‘call’.

In the UK the Department for Education oversees Erasmus+ and the programme is managed by the UK National Agency which is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.

Information on the programme is available on the UK Erasmus+ website.

The UK Government has promised to underwrite funding that was due to continue after Brexit and UK citizens are currently encouraged to apply for funding under Erasmus+.

The Erasmus+ programme is run on run seven yearly cycles and the current cycle will end in 2020.

The UK could potentially continue to be an active member of Erasmus+ post 2020 as various degrees of involvement in the programme are available for countries both inside and outside the EU.

On 30 May 2018 the EU Commission announced that it is proposing that for the next cycle starting in 2021 any country in the world will be able to participate if they meet set requirements. It is unclear at present what the UK’s participation in Erasmus+ will be after Brexit but the announcement opens up the possibility of the UK’s continued involvement in the programme.

Concerns were voiced about the Government’s committement to participation in Erasmus+ post Brexit after a vote was lost on a new clause to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would have compelled the Government to negotiate continued participation in Erasmus+ during the Brexit transition period. The Education Secrertary Gavin Williamson subsequently said in a parliamentary debate that the UK was “open to participation in the next Erasmus+ programme”.

This briefing focuses on the Erasmus+ programme from a higher education perspective.

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