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What is Erasmus? Mayor signs petition for UK to rejoin European student scheme

Sadiq Khan has pledged to “reopen the door for young people from across Europe” by having the UK rejoin the EU Erasmus programme.

The London mayor signed a petition launched on Monday by the UK branch of the European Movement, which has attracted over 8,000 signatures so far and has a target of 20,000. It said the move would be a vital step to retaining Britain’s standing in the world and upholding the world renown of its universities.

Mr Khan said: “We have seen the damage done by the Government’s hard Brexit right across our city, including to our world-class educational institutions with students from across Europe no longer able to choose London to study abroad and vice versa. That’s why I’m supporting the campaign to re-join the Erasmus+ programme.

“The UK may no longer be part of the EU but London is, and always will be, a European city and by re-joining the programme we can reopen the door for young people from across Europe to once again choose our city as we work to build a better London for everyone.”

What is the Erasmus scheme?

Erasmus+ is the European Union's programme offering opportunities for EU students to receive education and training in Europe. Its approximate budget of €26.2 billion (roughly £22.5 billion) is nearly double the funding compared with its predecessor programme, which piloted in 2014 and ended in 2020.

The 2021-2027 programme places a strong focus on social inclusion and the green and digital transitions. Moreover, it helps promote young people’s participation in democratic life.

Young people are offered opportunities to study abroad in various subjects across partner universities. However, the programme's greatest appeal is that it can assist with advancing language skills. Study periods can last anywhere between two and 12 months – and can even last for 24 in some cases.

Erasmus is an abbreviation for European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.

When did the UK leave?

Erasmus was replaced in September 2021 with the Turing scheme. The Government has called it “a truly global programme with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK education settings”.

However, this decision has meant a limited number of opportunities from 2021 onwards from Erasmus have remained open to the UK, according to the European Commission site.

It said: "The UK will be a non-associated third country in the new programme. As such a limited number of opportunities from 2021 onwards will remain open to UK participation because they are open to institutions or individuals from all over the world."