Erasmus Programme: will it remain if we leave the EU?

Erasmus Programme: will it remain if we leave the EU? by Saint Louis University

This article was written by Matthew Hepburn, published on 18th August 2016 and has been read 7530 times.

It’s safe to say that unless you’re living on a completely different planet, the chances of avoiding the EU referendum happening on June 23rd are near impossible! As the referendum day is fast approaching, it’s important to mention that voting registration closes tomorrow – June 7th. Don’t miss out on your vote and remember to register today or tomorrow: - It only takes 5 minutes!

I felt the need to write about the EU referendum because the whole debate has frustrated me as a young person and a student. I study French and European studies and like many other students this year, I am going on my year abroad to France to study in a partner university. So, for us students, this EU referendum is actually quite significant. It’s something that my course mates, flatmates and I have discussed a lot as we get closer to June 23rd.

One aspect of the EU debate that has frustrated me the most is that, in my opinion, neither the Leave campaigners nor the Remain have spoken about the impact leaving the EU would have on us as students. In particular, I am looking at the Erasmus programme that allows students to work and study in Europe and receive an Erasmus grant to cover costs while living abroad.

Since the EU referendum debate has become an unavoidable topic, I have wondered why are politicians not talking about the Erasmus programme and the effect it will have on it, if the UK decides to leave the EU. I have taken to writing this article, phoning my MP and even talking on radio programmes to ask the same question. What will happen to the Erasmus programme if we leave the EU? Will it still remain? Will students going abroad to Europe for study receive the Erasmus grant and the opportunity for an exchange with a partner university? These questions are important because young people studying can benefit enormously from this opportunity and I suspect, those going on the year abroad in Europe are enrolled on the Erasmus programme. Therefore, this issue is really important to us as students. It seems to me that we have been left in the dark about it all which I feel is unfair on us as voters.

What’s more, I find it odd that Leave or Remain campaigners haven’t pointed this out considering that it could encourage a) students to vote and b) help their side win. If Leave campaigners told us that there would be another programme put in place if the UK was to leave the EU, they could potentially win some votes (note from the Editor: there is currently no contingency plan in place). Likewise, if Remain campaigners told us that actually, Erasmus would cease to exist for UK students, they could win votes from students. Not only that, there is always talk about how young people are no longer interested in politics and they don’t get out and vote. Well, maybe it’s because politicians don’t address issues that affect us. Talk about how leaving the EU will impact our studies and you may just find young people become engaged.

Like for many others, the opportunity that I have to study or work abroad as part of my degree, to enhance my cultural awareness and increase my language fluency is unmissable. This opportunity is fundamental to my degree and I suppose others feel the same too. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the Erasmus programme and so, it concerns me that politicians have failed to raise this and consider what it means for students.
Whichever side you feel compelled to vote, make your voice heard on June 23rd and register today.

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