Russell: Losing Erasmus scheme ‘huge blow’ to Scotland

Constitution Secretary says Scottish Government will continue to work with the EU to explore options for a 'close relationship'.

Russell: Losing Erasmus scheme ‘huge blow’ to Scotland PA Media
Russell says Scotland was removed from Erasums scheme against its will.

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary has said losing the Erasmus scheme was a “huge blow” to the country.

Michael Russell has said that the Scottish Government was clear it wanted to remain in the Erasmus scheme during Brexit negotiations, and will continue to work with the EU to explore options for a “close relationship”.

Russell said that the UK Government had previously refused to publish details of its final value-for-money assessment of Erasmus, which was used as the basis for its decision not to associate with the programme.

He argued that the Turing Scheme proposed “removes all devolved competency from the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government in respect to the replacement scheme’s design or implementation”.

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Russell said: “The UK Government’s description of ‘close working’ on Erasmus and its alternative is unrecognisable from the reality.

“The devolved governments repeatedly told the UK Government that our strong desire was to continue as Erasmus+ members.

“Against our will, they withdrew us from the scheme anyway, without providing any supporting evidence or allowing us leeway to continue participating ourselves.

“Our views and analysis were disregarded during meetings, and key decisions were taken without our knowledge or consent.

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“Losing Erasmus is a huge blow for the thousands of Scottish students, community groups and adult learners, from all demographic backgrounds, who can no longer live, study or work in Europe.

“We will continue work with the EU institutions to explore the options for as close a relationship as possible being maintained.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said that they worked “very closely” with the devolved administrations for a year in the event the UK chose not to participate in the scheme.

She added: “The UK Government decided to not participate in the next Erasmus+ programme as it was not in the interest of UK taxpayers and our net contribution would have been around £2bn over the programme.

“The new Turing Scheme, backed by £110m, will provide thousands of students, from across the UK, the opportunity to study and work abroad.”