The Erasmus programme is an opportunity for students to study abroad, but more important is a symbol of European integration. However, with the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, it could mean the end to the Erasmus programme in the UK.
According to BBC (2019) in 2016 16,561 UK students participated in the Erasmus, while 31,727 EU students came to the UK.
Now, with the chance the UK is leaving with “no-deal”, many students from the UK but also EU students planning to go to the UK are uncertain of their financial funding.
That is why the European Commission has taken measures in case of a “no-deal” scenario. The measures guarantee that the trips of this academic year 2018/2019, who were approved before the Brexit (30/03/2017) are assured of their financial funding.
However, the UK and EU students who are participating the Erasmus programme for the next academic year 2019/2020 are uncertain of their financial funding. If the UK would leave the EU with no deal before finishing the Erasmus exchanges of 2019/2020, the UK will need an European agreement to continue their participance at the programme.
Both the UK as the European commission will try to get the 2019/2020 programme agreed as well, but this can only start after the UK has left the European Union. And so, for now these students are receiving a letter that their planned study trip funding is still uncertain.
This lead to the necessary disappointment by future but also potential Erasmus students.’
However, students from the ULB university are still applying for universities in the UK but also are looking for their “second bests”. “For us, we have to start looking for other destinations should there be a hard Brexit. Looking into Canada, Ireland being potential destinations,” said Kristin Bartik, ULB Vice-Rector (Euronews, 2018).
“And for some of our students, Northern European countries, Scandinavian countries might be a potential alternative. But it would be still be a pity that it’s not the UK” (Euronews, 2018).
Another student Emma J Latham, from London but currently studying in Brussels emphasizes the loss for both parties: “If Brexit did finish without a proper deal, it would be a huge loss not only for the UK, but also for Europe I feel. Because people come over to the UK for the education system, to learn English, to experience the UK, so I think it would be a big shame in my opinion” (Euronews, 2018).
Time will tell the faith of the students of the academic year 2019/2020. For the following academic years the United Kingdom has to decide whether they want to keep participating in the Erasmus programme since it is also possible to participate as non-EU country.