Turing grants confirmed as UK mobility scheme opens to bids

Government sets out details of UK replacement to Erasmus+ but concerns continue about level of support

March 12, 2021
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Details of the support available to students under the UK’s new Turing scheme have been confirmed as the global mobility programme opens to applications.

The Westminster government said that students would receive between £335 and £380 a month towards living costs under the programme. Disadvantaged students will be eligible for an additional £110 a month.

The Turing scheme, named after pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, was created after the UK decided to leave the European Union’s Erasmus+ scheme after Brexit.

The £110 million-per-year programme will fund 35,000 students to take part in university study, school exchanges and industry work placements internationally from September 2021.

UK institutions are now able to apply for funding, and the government said that it expects to issue funding decisions in July.

In this “truly global programme”, every country in the world is eligible to partner, the government said, adding that the scheme will be used to improve social mobility “targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas which did not previously have many students benefiting from Erasmus+”.

The funding will be “enough to fund similar levels of student exchanges under the former Erasmus+ scheme”, according to the government.

However, concerns have previously been raised about the support students will receive under the new scheme.

The Turing scheme will not fund the tuition fees of UK students going abroad, or those of European students coming to the UK, meaning that universities will need to make fee-waiver agreements with their international partner institutions.

Experts told Times Higher Education in January that this could be financially tricky if there are big price discrepancies between countries’ tuition fees.

Under the UK scheme, only disadvantaged students will be provided with travel costs. They will also receive funding for the costs of visas, passports and related travel insurance.

According to a government statement, the benefits of the exchanges will “be assessed and the findings used to build on future schemes. Funding decisions for subsequent years will be subject to future spending reviews.”

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, said that the scheme was “levelling up in action, as the scheme seeks to help students of all income groups from across the country experience fantastic education opportunities in any country they choose”.

But Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, said that the government’s rhetoric on the Turing scheme “does not live up to the reality”.

“While claiming to be targeting disadvantaged students, the scheme provides no support to cover tuition fees, which will make accessing these opportunities impossible for many students,” she said.

“Boris Johnson broke his promise when he committed to ensuring the UK would remain part of Erasmus+ after Brexit, and he is subjecting the Turing scheme to future spending review decisions, creating financial uncertainty for organisations and young people.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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