Thank you for contacting me about the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on the higher education sector. As a former teacher and a mother of a student, I share your concerns for the educational opportunities available to young people. 

I can assure you that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not mean the end of our relationship with our academic counterparts in Europe. I want the UK to remain a world leader in international research and I am glad that the Government will be working to attract the world’s top scientists and researchers to the UK in the future. The rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK will be guaranteed through the settled status scheme.

I understand that some will be disappointed by the Government’s decision to withdraw from the Erasmus +. However, it is my view that our exchange programme should not be limited to Europe when the fastest growing, most vibrant and dynamic economies are increasingly found in Asia and Africa. It is also the case that Erasmus’ benefits went overwhelmingly to students who were already advantaged. To exemplify this, in 2014-15, those with parents in managerial or professional occupations from the UK were taking part in Erasmus + at a rate 50 per cent higher than those whose parents had working class jobs – and the gap was widening.

Given this, I am pleased that the Government is to replace the UK’s participation in the Erasmus + with a new £100 million scheme for students to study and work abroad. The Turing scheme will provide funding for around 35,000 students per year and will enable them to go on placements and exchanges right across the globe. The new scheme will also target students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and I welcome that this will make international opportunities more accessible to everyone across the country. 

In addition, the Government has pledged to underwrite payments for universities participating in Horizon 2020. Investment in research and development funding is also increasing with an additional £7 billion by 2021/22. This is the largest increase in public research and development spending in over 40 years.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

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