Who needs Erasmus? UK in talks with Ivy League universities for new student exchange plan

Nicola Sturgeon slams UK's departure from Erasmus scheme

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The £110million Turing scheme will support UK students on work and study placements abroad from September. The scheme replaced the EU’s Erasmus programme after the UK left the EU with Prime Minister Boris Johnson deciding to opt-out of the “bureaucratic” concept.

Ministers also claim that the EU’s exchange scheme would hit the UK with a £2billion bill if they remained within it.

Ahead of applications closing for the new Turing scheme tomorrow, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said some of “America’s finest institutions are keen to be involved in the Turing Scheme.”

In the United States, students at Ivy League institutions including Havard and Yale pay up to £50,000 a year, five times more than the England cap of £9,250.

Ms Donelan said she had personally spoken to chiefs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious modern science and engineering institutions in the world.


She also revealed UK universities have “been talking to the likes of Harvard, Yale and other universities across America.”

Ms Donelan added: “We will harness our appeal as a destination to deliver an international education exchange programme that has a genuine global reach.

“That will strengthen the UK’s research and education sector and provide better experiences for students in the UK.”

The US is becoming an attractive destination to study with the number of British students going to American universities steadily increasing over the last few years.

A total of 8,861 students flew over to the States to study in 2009/10 which increased to 11,460 students by 2017/18, the most recent available figuresBy the end of 2021, UK ministers aim to send 35,000 students to high schools and universities across the world, not just EU countries.

As well as the USA, which Express.co.uk understands has been a key focus on the UK Government for the scheme, ministers have also spoken to institutions across the Commonwealth including Canada and Australia as well as China and Singapore.

In a blast at the EU, the Department for Education minister claimed the scheme is wider-reaching than the EU’s Erasmus program which only sent 3 percent of participants outside Europe.

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She continued: “The Turing scheme will ensure continuity of international exchanges while strengthening the UK’s educational sector and building on the UK’s considerable international appeal as a study destination.

“We have created a bespoke UK-wide scheme that will support and encourage the participation of students from all backgrounds to go across the globe, provide greater value for money to the UK taxpayer, and boost student skills and prospects.”

The MP for Chippenham also took a swipe at Scottish and Welsh ministers wanting to retain a place in Brussels’s student exchange scheme despite EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stating the UK could only participate in Erasmus “as a whole”.

The New International Learning Exchange scheme was announced by Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Wiliams last month and will cost £65million over five years.


Meanwhile, north of the border in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said she would advocate for Scotland’s inclusion in Erasmus+ and also create a Scottish programme of exchange as part of the SNP’s manifesto.

Ms Donelan, said: “We obviously await what will happen in Scotland, as that is a manifesto commitment and there is an ongoing election.

“What is happening in Wales is not starting till 2022 and is only £16.5million per year.”

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