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09 January 2020 20:37

Rassie Erasmus South Africa national rugby union team Rugby World Cup

'Choosing to limit our future' - Academics react as MPs vote against Erasmus study abroad scheme

MPs have backed the government in voting against a popular EU programme which for years has helped students to study in other European countries. The future of the Erasmus study abroad scheme remains uncertain, after MPs have voted against New Clause 10 being read a second time by 344 votes to 254. The clause would have required the government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership of the EU's Erasumus+ education and youth programme. "The Tory government has voted against continued involvement in the Erasmus scheme that allowed young people to spend time in other EU countries" The suggestion is that the government will pull the UK out of the EU-funded programme, which allows students from across the continent to work or study in another European country during their degrees. Universities minister, Chris Skidmore, tweeted this morning that the vote "does not end or prevent the UK participating in [Erasmus]", adding: "We remain open to participation and this will be part of future negotiations with the EU — we highly value international student exchanges".

The Department for Education told FactCheck: "The government is committed to continuing the academic relationship between the UK and the EU, including through the next Erasmus+ programme if it is in our interests to do so. Ministers insisted the government was still open to negotiating continued access to the programme, which provides exchange opportunities at universities around Europe, if it was in the UK's interests. 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November's dismal weather will finally change, with drier and colder conditions coming for the start of December, forecasters have said PA 44/50 27 November 2019 The moment a swan flew over a flock of 60,000 starlings as dusk fell on Whixall Moss Nature Reserve in Shropshire Andrew Fusek Peters / SWNS 45/50 26 November 2019 SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon plays with local children during a visit to the Jelly Tots & Cookies Play Cafe in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire PA 46/50 25 November 2019 Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with sheep as he visits the Royal Welsh Showground, in Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, whilst on the General Election campaign trail PA 47/50 24 November 2019 Cush Jumbo attends the 65th Evening Standard Theatre Awards at London Coliseum Getty Images 48/50 23 November 2019 Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets a supporter on a train on his return from a visit to Sheffield PA 49/50 22 November 2019 Gallery assistants adjust 'The Ancient Town of Uglich' by Konstantin Yuon, 1913, estimated at £600,000 to £800,000, during a press preview of the sale of works by some of the most pre-eminent creators of Russian art at Sotheby's in London PA 50/50 21 November 2019 A mother seal appears to hug her pup as grey seals return to Donna Nook National Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire, where they come every year in late autumn and winter to give birth PA And the Department for Education said that the government was "committed to continuing the academic relationship between the UK and the EU, including through the next Erasmus+ programme if it is in our interests to do so".

Ms Meredith said the AoC remained "optimistic" that securing continued access to Erasmus+ would be high on the UK's priority list for negotiations on the future partnership with the EU, which will begin after the official date of Brexit on 31 January and are due to conclude at the end of this year. The EU programme helps students study in other countries, with thousands from the UK learning abroad through the scheme each year. Parliament voted against an amendment which would have required the Government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership in the programme after the UK leaves the EU. New Clause 10 to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was put forward by a group of Lib Dem, SNP and Green MPs in a bid to tighten the Government's obligation to negotiate continued Erasmus membership. After MPs voted against a second reading of New Clause 10 by 344 votes to 255, the Government will definitely not be bound by law to negotiate a full membership of Erasmus post-Brexit.

The government has previously said that if it fails to negotiate the UK's continuing participation in Erasmus, it will speak to individual countries about creating exchange programmes. The vote was on including a new clause in the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill stating that the government would aim to secure agreement that after the transition period – which the UK calls the implementation period – the UK would continue to participate in all elements of the Erasmus+ programme on existing terms. Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who tabled the clause, said in the debate yesterday it was "an absolute no-brainer" and that "for students, young people, those in training and staff who work in the education sector, the Erasmus scheme as been absolutely incredible".