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Huw Edwards suggests Welsh Government could rejoin EU student exchange programme

27 Dec 2020 3 minutes Read
Huw Edwards picture by Brian Minkoff-London Pixels (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Huw Edwards has suggested that the Welsh Government could rejoin the Erasmus exchange programme after Boris Johnson withdrew from it as part of the EU trade deal.

Despite the UK ditching the scheme as part of its withdrawal from the EU, the devolved governments could opt back in if they’re willing to pay for membership.

The Irish Government has already announced that it will fund Erasmus students studying in Northern Ireland.

Erasmus enables third level students to study for part or all of their degree in another EU member state or undertake a work placement abroad, with their fees and costs paid.

“A headteacher from South Wales asks me if the Welsh Government will do the same as education is a devolved matter?” Huw Edwards asked on Twitter. “One for the First Minister I think.”

The BBC broadcaster, who graduated in French from University College, Cardiff, had previously called the exchange programme “massively beneficial” and posted a younger picture of himself in France.

“A purely personal observation,” he said. “I know from experience how massively beneficial the Erasmus scheme has been to so many young people.

“I hope we find other ways of giving students the amazing cultural opportunities they might otherwise miss. Diolch.”

 

‘Expensive’

The Erasmus scheme gives financial support to students within the programme to study abroad for a set amount of time – either a semester or a year – in a participating country.

Students from the UK who wanted to study within Europe were given financial support from the EU, funded by participating states paying in.

Welshman Dr. Hywel Ceri Jones was one of the main driving forces within the EU executive when Erasmus first began to take shape in the 1970s and 1980s and is considered one of the architects of the scheme.

In 2017, 16,561 UK students participated in the scheme, while 31,727 EU nationals from other countries came to study in Britain under it.

A number of non-EU countries are members of the Erasmus scheme, including Iceland, Turkey, Norway, and Serbia.

Speaking at a press conference after the EU trade deal was agreed, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: “The British government decided not to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme.”

Boris Johnson later said that it was “extremely expensive scheme” and that the “UK exchequer lost out” as a result of it.

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