Cheering on Turing? The future of educational mobility

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*All information correct as of April 2021.

It’s been well over a year since Britain officially renounced their European Union membership in January 2020. Since also surpassing the 365-day ‘transition period’ on January 1st, 2021, we as a nation have been officially riding solo, governed entirely under the new rules and regulations of our EU/UK partnership. This, sadly, also meant we said our final goodbye to Erasmus+ as we once knew it.

As per AberSU policy, we did loads of work pre-Brexit to lobby for continued access to ERASMUS+ for UK students post-Brexit (feel free to check out this roundup on what we did for context). Having now lost that battle as a nation, I thought it best to give you an update on where we are now, and where we will be going in the near future.

What now?

Although I just said ERASMUS+ have given us the boot, that isn’t yet entirely true. The last 7-year stint of the programme ran from 2014-2020, closing off the opportunity for the UK to bid for 2021 funding. However, most educational programmes (degrees especially) last more than just a year. So, anyone who began their exchange during the previous ERASMUS+ session (pre-September 2020), will still be able to complete their studies without any negative impact. With this, participating universities in the UK were also given the opportunity to apply for an extension with ERASMUS+, allowing them to use any remaining funds from their 2014-2020 bids to continue exchanges right up until 2022. Of course, Aberystwyth University was one of many to nab such an opportunity. This means Aberystwyth University are still actively participating in the scheme while funds will allow.

What next?

Of course, despite the above terms and conditions, our extended membership to ERASMUS+ won’t last forever, so finding an alternative is crucial.  While many schemes are out there, the biggest name being chucked around is now Turing - the UK’s own global study and work abroad programme. Aberystwyth University has placed a bid to participate, with the outcome due to be announced in July 2021.

With this, as is the case at most institutions, there are other funds available to support students going abroad, for example Global Wales Discover, and other internal grants. This will differ from place to place, so it’s always best to check in with your careers advisers/international office to explore these further.

So, what is Turing and how does it compare to our old friend ERASMUS+? There are few key differences to consider.

EU vs Worldwide - Participation in the ERASMUS+ exchange is mostly limited to EU countries, with just a few externals making the list. Turing, on the other hand, prides itself on being global. Aberystwyth University has already started conversations with potential new partners, with particular interest in South America, and South East Asia.

Number of Partners - Despite Turing being global, it’s also brand new, which means a blank sign-up sheet. ERASMUS+ has been going for decades, earning itself a positive reputation, and a long list of loyal participating institutions. Compared to ERASMUS+, it may take some time for Turing to make a name for itself, and convince partners to buy-in, especially those in Europe. Aberystwyth University have confidence, though, that many of our previous ERASMUS+ partners are keen to continue our relationship through the new Turing scheme.

Widening Participation - Here’s where Turing definitely gets the one-up on ERASMUS+; it’s commitment to offering opportunities to students, and regions, with less advantage than others. Turing has taken multiple steps to ensure their programme is inclusive, from providing specific funding for students of a disadvantaged background, to removing barriers such as travel costs, language sufficiency, and minimum time spent away.

Tuition fees - The biggest flex for ERASMUS+ is that students pay 0 fees to their placement/host university - instead, students get to pay their home fees (for us, usually £9,000), but do their studies abroad. Luckily for us, Turing works on the same principle, meaning from September 2021, UK students should have access to global opportunities and still be covered by UK student finance.

What does this mean for you?

A lot is changing, but the most important thing is that there are still loads of opportunities for UK students to study and work abroad. From graduate placements to a semester away, if you are considering any kind of international exchange, I encourage you to get in touch with the Global Opportunities Team. They are the experts with a range of knowledge on where to go and how to get there - and most importantly, how to fund it.

As is the case with anything new, there will be teething time, questions, and a LOT of opinions, so much of this is still up in the air. One thing I can guarantee though, is that no matter how Turing unfolds, AberSU will always continue to elevate the voices of Aber students, to ensure you get the best opportunities for one epic student journey.

That’s all from me, but hopefully not from you. Tell us your thoughts! Have you studied or worked abroad? Would you like to? What are your thoughts on the future of student mobility? How can your union support international students going forward?

Let’s have a conversation.

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