In his third contribution Lord Bilimoria discusses the Erasmus Programme and its future in Britain after the transition period. He maintains that the Erasmus Programme has benefited thousands of British students and has made it affordable for students to travel and study abroad. He also notes that through the programme, Britain has emerged as one of the most attractive destinations for European Students. He goes on to question whether the government promises to maintain and protect all funding streams for EU projects in the UK. If not, he seeks to understand whether the government will be inclined towards spending more money to implement a new programme in its place. He closed by reiterating the need to preserve the Erasmus programme for all to ensure that student’s futures are not taken away from them.
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
30 April 2018
My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Clancarty on Amendment 60, and speak specifically on the Erasmus programme. I speak as a university chancellor and chair of the advisory board of the Cambridge Judge Business School. The Erasmus programme is 30 years old, and I ask the Minister whether we are to throw away 30 years of that wonderful initiative. Employers—I speak as one—value the Erasmus brand. Hundreds of thousands of British students have benefited from it.
Are we committing to staying in the Erasmus programme well beyond the transition period? Are we committing to it permanently? Otherwise, what happened in Switzerland could happen to us. When Switzerland voted to restrict EU migration, it was taken out of the Erasmus programme. It had to spend extra money to put a new programme in place. Do we want to go through all that?
The most important thing about the Erasmus programme is that it is for everybody. It covers a wide variety of subjects and involves 725,000 European students—a huge number—and Britain is one of the most attractive destinations. Will the Government keep their promise to maintain and protect all funding streams for EU projects in the UK? Most importantly, it enables students who would not otherwise be able to afford it to go and travel and study abroad.
I reiterate what has been said. This is about our youths—and when I speak to students around the country in schools and universities, 100% of them want to remain in the European Union. The least that we can do is to ensure that the Erasmus programme is open to them and not take their future away from them.