As 2020 comes to an end, international students are getting ready to face the fresh challenges of 2021. From January 1, 2021, international students cannot study in the European Universities with an Erasmus grant.
Now, why is that so? It is because the United Kingdom will no longer be a part of the Erasmus program.
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What does it mean for international students?
International students will face challenging hurdles from 2021. They cannot qualify for the Erasmus grant. So, this may lead to fresh financial challenges for international students.
What is an Erasmus Programme, and how does it help international students?
Launched in 1987, the Erasmus Program has been helping international students worldwide for 30 years to gain work experience and explore apprenticeship opportunities in Europe. It is a European Union student exchange program that allows international students in European and British universities to participate in exchanges and flourishes their careers.
When Boris Johnson declared that the UK would no longer be a part of the Erasmus scheme, international students were shocked. Around 200,000 individuals take part in the Erasmus education exchange and enjoy all the benefits. In January 2020, Boris Johnson said that people could be rest assured about the Erasmus scheme in the parliament. Students will not lose the chance to participate in the Erasmus education exchange post Brexit.
However, now Boris Johnson changed his stance. Now, he feels that the Erasmus education scheme is too expensive.
We do not know why Boris Johnson changed his stance all of a sudden. Was it in his mind from the beginning of the year? What has suddenly changed now? What did he think when he made that statement in January 2020? The Erasmus education scheme cannot become unexpectedly expensive within a few months.
What is Boris Johnson offering to international students now?
Boris Johnson is coming up with an alternative solution for international students. He is planning to launch a new education scheme called the Turing Scheme. The name of the method is inspired by the mathematician Alan Turing.
According to Boris Johnson, the Turing scheme will be beneficial for the British and international students. The new education scheme will help students study in European universities and the top-notch universities of the world.
The Turing scheme sounds impressive from the outside. But nobody knows how this education scheme will work. And that is because Boris Johnson has not yet revealed the details of the plan or its cost. He has declared that the UK will not be a part of the Erasmus education scheme from January 2021. But he has not announced the date of commencement of the Turing scheme.
So, both British and international students are clueless about their future. They know that they cannot enjoy the benefits of the Erasmus scheme from January 2021. But they have no idea about when and how Boris Johnson is planning to introduce the alternative study program.
Unless Boris Johnson takes proactive steps fast, both British and international students will suffer.
What are lawmakers saying about the UK decision to pull out of the Erasmus scheme?
In a report published by the house of lords in 20I9, the lawmakers warned that it would take several years for the UK government to offer something that matches the Erasmus program’s benefits.
Lawmakers have already expressed their concerns about the future of the students who have some disabilities or medical needs. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds need the Erasmus program. They do not know what will happen to those helpless students from backward communities.
Several top leaders have criticized Boris Johnson’s decision. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, regretted that the UK would no longer be a part of the Erasmus scheme. However, it is the final decision of the British government. Hence there is nothing that he can do.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has vehemently criticized the UK decision to pull out of the Erasmus scheme. Nicola feels that this is a kind of cultural vandalism. Erasmus gives lots of opportunities to young students. Alas! Thousands of international students will suffer due to the UK government’s decision, which is unfortunate.
The Ireland government has declared that Northern Ireland students will participate in the Erasmus scheme and enjoy all the benefits.
What is the future of international students now?
From 2021, the UK students will enjoy the Erasmus grants until their expiry date. Students who have applied and qualified for the Erasmus grants in 2020 will enjoy the benefits in 2021. They can carry on with their exchanges.
Students can get access to other Erasmus program countries. For example, Serbia, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Norway, North Macedonia, and Iceland have exhausted their funds or finished their projects.
Apart from the UK, the beneficiaries from the participating countries in the Erasmus program can send their students and employees to the UK until they have exhausted their funds or completed their projects.
However, the situation is different for the UK and the EU students. They have to go through the new immigration regulations now. The UK students can stay in an EU country for three months out of every six months without a visa. The only exception is Ireland, which has free mobility with the United Kingdom.
The immigration laws will vary between the EU countries. EU students going to the United Kingdom as part of the Erasmus scheme can walk on the short-term study route for up to 6 months.
However, if students want to stay in the UK for more than six months, they have to apply for a student visa like anybody who wants to do a degree in the UK.
There is no doubt that the UK government’s decision will affect international students’ study plans. The scenario will not be like before from 2021. It is high time that the UK government comes out with an alternative solution for the British and international students. If the Turing scheme is not as good as it sounds, then international students will be in a big problem in the future.