PM says UK ‘will continue to participate’ in Erasmus+

‘No threat’ to UK involvement in European Union’s student mobility programme, Boris Johnson tells MPs

January 15, 2020
Westminster, Houses of Parliament
Source: iStock

Boris Johnson has insisted that there is “no threat” to the UK’s involvement in the European Union’s Erasmus+ student mobility programme after Brexit and that the nation will “continue to participate”.

His comments during Prime Minister’s Questions on 15 January followed last week’s Conservative vote against Liberal Democrats amendments to the EU withdrawal bill, aiming to force the government to negotiate access to Erasmus and the bloc’s Horizon Europe research programme before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020.

The Conservative vote against the amendments was predictable and ministers said it was prompted by a desire to avoid tying the government’s hands in negotiations, not a signal that the UK would decline to join the programmes.

However, universities will have been alarmed by a report on 11 January, when The Times quoted a Whitehall source as saying that “the question being asked is whether you want to spend a billion pounds on this [joining Erasmus] or put it into the schools budget”, adding that “clearly it will depend on the negotiations with the EU but the feeling is that it is expensive and not a priority for the government”.

At PMQs, Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman asked Mr Johnson about “the end” of the Erasmus programme.

The prime minister replied that Mr Chapman was “talking through the back of his neck”.

Mr Johnson added: “There is no threat to the Erasmus scheme. We will continue to participate. UK students will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of exchanges with our European friends and partners, just as they will continue to be able to come to this country.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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