Britain says goodbye to the «Erasmus»

Thousands of British students “mourn” their exclusion from the popular European educational exchange program “Erasmus”, due to Brexit. For many young people in the country, the decision to withdraw from the program has been another obstacle to their professional prospects and their spiritual cultivation. Its abolition for British students is also a blow to the prestigious British universities, a source of prestige and foreign exchange for the country. Many young people and academics had expressed the hope that Britain would remain a member of the Erasmus network, as is the case with others outside the EU. countries such as Turkey and Norway.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Thursday caused a stir at the university, angered diplomats and disappointed British students, who had believed his January statement that the program was not in jeopardy. “The loss of revenue for British universities can be calculated, but the cost of the diploma is incalculable,” said Sean Hunt, a professor at Warwick University. “Erasmus opens students’ horizons and broadens their perception of the world,” said John O’Brennan, a professor of European Studies at the University of Mainouth in Ireland.

Although educational exchanges between British and European universities can be continued through bilateral agreements, British students will no longer be able to secure the monthly stipend offered by the European program. Since its inauguration in 1987, Erasmus has allowed millions of students to study abroad. Every year, around 200,000 European students take part in it. Its “graduates” always speak with nostalgia for their experience, which they consider the most tangible form of European integration.

Half of British students studying abroad do so through Erasmus. For many of them, the program shaped their personal path, offering access to mainland Europe. The 25-year-old author Ben Munster, who studied in Italy in 2015 as part of a program to move to Rome last year, calls “Erasmus” “the purest form and most vivid expression of the Schengen dream.” “Everyone benefits, even academics,” added Mark Berry, a professor of music history at Royal Holloway University in London.

In 2009, Britain welcomed more than 30,000 students and trainees through the program. “This is the most positive manifestation of British soft power,” said Professor Simon Cartwell. The British Prime Minister announced last week the replacement of “Erasmus” with the “Turing” program, named in honor of the British mathematician and cryptographer.