The UK government has announced that applications for funding through the Turing Scheme are now open. The £110 million Erasmus+ replacement will fund 35,000 global exchanges from September 2021, including university study, school exchanges, and industry work placements.
The scheme is named after the mathematician Alan Turing, and replaces Erasmus, a European Union (EU) programme which UK students can no longer take part in.
The UK government has emphasized that the new scheme would “improve social mobility, targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas which did not previously have many students benefiting from Erasmus+”, as well as opening up the possibility for exchanges beyond Europe.
University students from disadvantaged backgrounds will “receive a maximum of £490 per month towards living costs”, around £28 more than the living costs offered by Erasmus+, as well as “other forms of additional funding to offset the cost of passports, visas and insurance”.
The launch was a “landmark step in delivering on our promise to level up a truly global Britain, strengthening our ties across the world and providing students with the skills they need to thrive.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson called the Turing Scheme “a truly global program with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK universities, schools and colleges”.
“It is also 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,” a British media quoted him.
For the first year of the program, priority will be on the short window applications.
The program office will work with member universities to receive their feedback on any difficulties and will look to the government to confirm funding for future years.
As part of the launch, education ministers are visiting the devolved nations – who have been particularly critical of leaving Erasmus+ – “to highlight the advantages of the Turing scheme and ensure wider participation for all students across the UK”.
The universities minister Michelle Donegan will personally visit Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities to “discuss the bidding process including how to demonstrate widening access to more disadvantaged students as part of the application process”.
Northern Ireland alone has been able to remain in Erasmus+ after an arrangement was made with the Republic of Ireland.
It will now be seen whether the lack of reciprocity in the new scheme, which only funds outbound students, will present a hurdle in developing partnerships.
A briefing paper from the House of Commons Library published in February noted that a “possible consequence of the decision not to fund inward mobilities is that while the government expects host countries to waive tuition fees for UK students, it is unclear how this will work in practice”.
A £110 million budget for 35,000 exchanges works out at an average of £3,143 per exchange.
However, only 8 percent of UK undergraduate students undertook a period of study, work or volunteering abroad in 2018/19 – and less than half of them did so via the Erasmus program.
In 2019, 30,501 students and trainees came to the UK as part of 684 UK Erasmus+ projects, representing a total grant amount of €144.69 million, while only 18,305 UK students and trainees went abroad through Erasmus+.
The Erasmus Programme is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987. Erasmus+, or Erasmus Plus, is the new programme combining all the EU’s current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, started in January 2014.
The UK turned down an offer to continue participating in Erasmus after Brexit.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan said the Turing scheme would “enable up to 35,000 students throughout the UK to work or study across the globe”.