Scotland must find a way for Erasmus+ to continue post-Brexit, says Holyrood’s Europe and External Relations Committee


Scotland must find a way for Erasmus+, the EU education and training programme to continue after Brexit, says Holyrood’s European and External Relations Committee.

In a report published today, MSPs say thousands of young people, volunteers, teachers and students from a range of backgrounds - not just university undergraduates - stand to lose out if the UK Government cannot, or will not, negotiate the UK’s continued participation in the scheme beyond 2020.

The committee says Scotland must therefore look for alternative ways for its participation in the programme to continue after Brexit.

In the report, MSPs call on the Scottish Government to explore using existing ‘institutional structures’ such as Education Scotland and British Council Scotland to secure the future for the programme.

Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener of the Committee said:

“There is much more to Erasmus+ in Scotland than university exchange programmes. Hundreds of youth work organisations, volunteer groups, teachers and colleges use the programme to raise attainment and the aspirations of some of our most disadvantaged young people.

“We heard evidence about college students who’d never been abroad learning cookery in France, construction in Spain and hairdressing in Portugal.

“It is also the case that Erasmus+ is the main source of funding in Scotland for professional development for language teachers. Without access to the programme the opportunity to train and network with other schools and colleges across the EU will be lost.

“On the basis of evidence we heard, the UK's continued full participation in Erasmus+ should be a priority issue for withdrawal negotiations given its value to Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“If the UK Government is not able or willing to negotiate the UK’s continued involvement, we recommend the Scottish Government should explore using its own institutions to secure Scotland’s future participation beyond 2020 when current funding ends.”

Claire Baker MSP, Deputy Convener said:

“Our report recognises the excellent work being done by Scottish institutions and organisations to use Erasmus+ funding and wider opportunities available under the programme to raise attainment. In particular, we were impressed by the experience of some disadvantaged young people who have been motivated by their Erasmus+ experience to, what was described to us as, ‘look beyond Friday’ and consider what they might be doing next year or in their future lives.”

Notes to editors

Interview opportunity

Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener is available for interview Tuesday 13 February 2018 from 3:45pm - 4:15pm. Please contact Angela Kelly if you would like to arrange an interview.

Background information

Erasmus+ is an EU programme that aims to promote and modernise education, training, youth work and sport across Europe.

In 2017 Scotland received its highest-ever allocation of Erasmus+ funding. Nearly €21m was awarded compared to €16m in the previous year.

The funds benefited 159 Scottish organisations in the higher and adult education, schools, youth, and vocational education and training sectors.

From the overall €21m figure:

  • €11.4m was received by Scotland’s universities;
  • €2.3m was received by Scotland’s schools;
  • €4.75m was received by Scottish organisations working in vocational education and training;
  • €1.6m was received by Scottish organisations working in adult education;
  • €756k was received by Scottish youth work organisations.

Taking these figures into account, at the halfway stage of the current Erasmus+ programme, Scotland has benefitted from €60m of funding across 700 individual projects since 2014.

Between 2014-17, approximately 500 schools across Scotland benefitted from Erasmus+.

Erasmus+ is the main source of funding for language teachers’ professional development and a vital source of funding for the youth work sector.

The Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee launched its inquiry into Scotland’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme in November 2017.