Despite the danger of a no-deal Brexit, students studying abroad have had funding for foreign university exchanges guaranteed by the University, according to an email sent to students on Monday of last week. Separately, students across the UK have also been advised that in the event of a no-deal scenario, the government will cover the costs of study as Europe has previously done while Britain has been part of the Union.
Currently, students wishing to study in European countries can apply through the ‘Erasmus+’ scheme, which gives students monthly grants according to the cost of living in their respective host country, as well as establishing relationships between European universities. Although, as a University spokesperson explained, only the European ‘Erasmus+’ exchanges are under threat by Brexit Student concern was raised regarding whether the various exchanges and programmes for ‘Erasmus+’ and beyond would be protected, especially in the event of a no-deal scenario.
The email from Global Programmes represents the University’s effort to take matters into their own hands. The email admits that post-Brexit, one potential “area of impact is the uncertainty over whether the UK government will commit to provide ‘Erasmus+’ funding.” The email aims to reassure students that the “University of York will provide the same level of grant funding and discounted fees to you for your European study/work placement planned for 2019/20.” A commitment has also been made to protect study for the academic year 2020-21; beyond that, the intention is that the UK remains part of the ‘Erasmus+’ programme, but the University commented that even “past that, European placements for York students with our valued European partners will continue.”
Government guidelines issued on the 6 February advised institutions to continue accepting applicants for the programme regardless of Brexit consequences. The guidelines also contained a guarantee that the government would ‘cover the payment of awards to UK applicants for all successful ‘Erasmus+’ bids. The government has been under pressure from academic institutions across the country to guarantee funding.
York has been lobbying the Education Department both independently and as art of a mission group. Lobbying efforts have been praised by YUSU Academic Officer, James Hare, who says that “there is still work to be done at the national level to keep the UK within the Erasmus programme and I am keen to continue campaigning on this issue alongside the Universities UK #SupportStudyAbroad campaign.”
The measures put in place by York will likely serve as a comfort for students facing uncertainty about their academic future. Hare welcomed the protections: “Study abroad was an invaluable part of my university experience, and this news guarantees the opportunity to study abroad to our students moving forward.”
As of 27 February, there are 169 successful applicants nominated to the Centre for Global Programmes by York academic departments for 2019/20 due to study in Europe next year. These opportunities will be protected from political uncertainty, which should give students the confidence to plan for the year ahead. The University has committed itself to providing “all necessary support for these placements” notwithstanding a catastrophic diplomatic fallout, or other “external factors beyond our control.