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Background

The Erasmus programme was launched in 1987 as an education exchange with 11 European members, including the UK. In 2014, the programme became Erasmus+ and expanded to include apprentices, jobseekers, volunteers, sport, and staff and youth exchanges. Today, Erasmus+ encompasses 33 full members (including the 27 EU member states) as well as more than 160 other countries around the world.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU following the 2016 referendum did not necessarily mean it had to end its involvement with the Erasmus+ programme. The Government, however, has said the terms for continued participation offered by the EU were not in the interests of the UK taxpayer.

In December 2020, the Prime Minister announced the UK would no longer participate in the Erasmus+ programme and would establish the Turing Scheme as a replacement.

How does the Turing Scheme work?

The Turing Scheme funds projects for participants from the UK and British Overseas Territories to undertake a study, work, or training placement in another country (known as an ‘outward mobility’).

Organisations, such as schools, colleges, and universities, apply for funding for Turing Scheme projects on behalf of their students. Projects must focus on four main objectives: global Britain; levelling up; developing key skills; and value for UK taxpayers.

Organisational funding helps cover costs directly linked to the administration and implementation of a project. Funding to cover living costs is also available for all projects. Participants on further education, vocational education and training, and schools projects receive funding towards their travel costs. Additional financial support is also available to participants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In the 2021/22 academic year, the Turing Scheme’s budget is £110 million. It will support around 40,000 participants to go on study and work placements in 150 countries and territories. 48% of placements are for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Reactions to the scheme

Labour has said the lack of funding to cover tuition fees runs counter to the Government’s stated commitment to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The education and training sectors expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to leave the Erasmus+ programme but welcomed the replacement scheme.

How does the Turing Scheme compare to Erasmus+?

The table below sets out how the two programmes compare in several areas. More detailed information is provided in the briefing.

Turing Scheme

Erasmus+

Focus

Global.

Europe (but placements outside Europe possible).

Budget

£110 million for 2022/23. Funding confirmed until 2025.

€26 billion for the 2021-27 cycle.

Scope

Education, training, and work placements outside the UK. No funding for pupils and students coming to the UK.

Inward and outward education, training, and work exchanges; staff development and exchanges; organisation improvement programmes; youth opportunities; and sport.

Financial support

Travel grants for all higher education participants from disadvantaged backgrounds. Costs for visas, passports, and insurance also covered. The Government expects tuition fees to be waived by host universities but has said this is a matter for individual institutions to agree.

Living cost grants are slightly more generous than under Turing, especially to countries outside Europe. Additional grants for travel support are not available to most higher education participants. Tuition fees are waived in participating countries.

Administration

January 2021 to April 2022: the British Council and Ecorys UK.

From April 2022: Capita and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The UK National Agency (the British Council and Ecorys UK).

Pandemic response

Projects awarded funding for the 2021/22 academic year can be rearranged, but not beyond 31 August 2022.

Funding awarded in the 2014-20 cycle can be used until 31 May 2023.

The devolved administrations

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have expressed disappointment at the decision to leave the Erasmus+ programme and the nature of its replacement.

On 2 February 2022, the Welsh Government launched Taith, an international learning exchange programme to run alongside the Turing Scheme. The Scottish Government has said it will also develop its own international exchange programme.

The Irish Government is working on an arrangement to continue access to Erasmus+ for Northern Ireland’s higher education students ahead of the 2023/24 academic year.


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