A new programme built on the strengths of Erasmus+
We know that for many Wales for Europe supporters, the decision by Johnson’s UK government to leave the Erasmus+ scheme was careless and reckless. It was one of far too many unnecessary damages inflicted by the Brexit deal. It was a choice based on ideology, rather than what is best for our young people.
Today, we can be proud that the Welsh Government has responded to heartfelt criticism of the decision to leave Erasmus+.
Young people in Wales from all backgrounds will be able to participate in international exchanges with our European neighbours – and beyond – through a new programme which seeks to build on the success, breadth and depth of Erasmus+.
Through the new International Learning Exchange programme, young people will have opportunities regardless of whether they are at university, in further education or vocational training, in school or engaged with youth work. Funding has been committed from 2022-26, including opportunities for staff, and commits to bilateral exchange.
Read the full statement from Welsh Government.
The Turing scheme, the Erasmus+ ‘replacement’ offered by UK government, has been heavily criticised for being a ‘one way street’ with no plans for bilateral exchange. It has no provision for the youth work sector, denying opportunities for young people outside formal education and often facing considerable disadvantage. It has no provision for staff exchanges. Funding has only been committed for one year.
Wales for Europe supporters have also greeted the decision with enthusiasm:
‘As a former youth worker who focused on the Erasmus+ programme to develop innovative and challenging activities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am bowled over by this announcement. The news of the UK’s withdrawal from the programme was brutal and very difficult to accept for so many people – workers, communities and of course young people themselves – and there was a palpable sense of mourning at what we would be losing. To hear this news from Welsh Government today is incredible, and to know it values the wider benefits of the whole programme is a reflection of the value placed on young people themselves. This is a day for celebration!’
Sheila Smith, Cardiff for Europe
‘Wales is small but it is mighty in it desire to be outward-looking while retaining its own characteristics. We wish to learn from and share our experiences with other nations, countries, communities and societies, believing that maintaining these close contacts helps increase mutual understanding and tolerance, and ensures the maintenance of peace.’
Gareth Roberts, retired languages teacher, Ynys Mon for Europe
‘Erasmus brought me to the UK. It meant I could live here, rather than just visit. It meant British students could live alongside Erasmus students from France, Spain, Germany. I made friends. I got to know this country. And I met the man who would become my husband. He then came to my university with Erasmus. He could live in Spain, and we could spend more time together. We’re now raising an Erasmus baby. A little European who thinks nothing of speaking two languages. Without Erasmus, I wouldn’t have him. So I owe the most precious things in life to Erasmus.’
Trini Clares, Cardiff for Europe