The UK has now left the EU which gives us to the chance to expand opportunities for young people to study abroad, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I understand the disappointment by some over the decision to withdraw from the Erasmus + and the Prime Minister did admit it was a tough decision. However, it is my view that our exchange programme should not be limited to Europe when the fastest growing, most vibrant, and dynamic economies are increasingly found in Asia and Africa. It is also the case that continued membership would have cost in the hundreds of millions each year and that Erasmus' benefits went overwhelmingly to students who were already advantaged. To exemplify this, in 2014-15 those with parents in managerial or professional occupations from the UK were taking part in Erasmus + at a rate 50 per cent higher than those whose parents had working class jobs - and the gap was widening.
This new £100 million Turing Scheme named after one of our greatest British scientists and a hero of the Second World War who himself studied abroad as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton, will provide funding for around 35,000 students per year and will enable them to go on placements and exchanges right across the globe, including in Europe. Crucially, the new scheme will target students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and I welcome that this will make international opportunities more accessible to everyone across the country.
The Turing Scheme will provide similar opportunities for students to study and work abroad as the Erasmus+ programme but it will include countries across the world and aims to deliver greater value for money to taxpayers.
I am pleased that the Universities UK International Director, Vivienne Stern, and International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith, have both welcomed the Government's commitment to international exchanges and recognise the benefits this scheme will bring to those who are least advantaged.
Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP
Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham
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