On Wednesday night, the UK Government won the House of Commons’ approval to trigger Article 50. This EU Bill, which is a formal notification of withdrawal from the European Union, was passed by 494 votes to 122.
Many speculations of what consequences Brexit would bring have been wildly publicized. However, the Erasmus student exchange scheme’s future and the potential loss of thousands of international students coming to the UK, is a potential aftermath that should be discussed. This university funding program for students to study or work, both in the EU continent and Britain, has benefited thousands of young people for over 30 years.
Erasmus students are exempt from paying fees for tuition, registration, examinations and access to university facilities at the host institution, as described by their website. As well as this opportunity, students are financially supported with a 300€ (£260) per month grant.
Now, under a potential threat, the prospects of students spending a year of the career abroad diminishes, as students from poorer backgrounds could lose out on this advantageous opportunity, as their economic situations may not allow them to finance their studies themselves.
Back in July 2016, Ruth Sinclair – Jones the director of the UK program, told The Guardian: “In the long term, it’s an unknown situation. We will continue with our plans until 2017 but after that we have to wait.”
Other countries that are not EU member states also participate in Erasmus. However, it is essential to highlight that countries such as Norway have accepted free movement as part of their relationship with the EU. Most likely, Britain would follow Switzerland’s course, whose difficult relationship with the EU and limited freedom of movement, excludes them from the Erasmus program.
It is still very unclear whether or not Britain would be able to benefit from the Erasmus scheme after Brexit. The possible consequences should be clearly defined and considered as negotiations develop.