Trinity has announced a commitment to advocating for the United Kingdom’s continued membership in the Erasmus+ programme.
In a email sent to all staff and students, Julia Carmichael, Trinity’s Chief Risk Officer (CRO) wrote that “we at Trinity will be at pains to show over the coming months that it is in the interests of the UK to continue the academic relationship it has with EU countries, particularly Ireland”. Continuing, she stated that “Trinity will not be found wanting in highlighting its importance”.
This came in response to a statement released by the UK’s Department of Education, which stated “the UK 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”. Earlier this year, the UK’s Conservative majority shot down an amendment proposed by the Liberal Democrats to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which would have required the government to seek out continued participation in the Erasmus scheme.
When Boris Johnson was questioned on the decision he insisted there was “no threat” to the project and that “UK students will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of exchanges with our European friends and partners” without clarifying whether that benefit would be brought about through participation in the current Erasmus+ programme.
Last month, the UK and Ireland both announced the continuation of existing fee agreements, which had been thrown into uncertainty by the UK’s decision to depart from the European Union. Irish students will continue to pay home fees at UK third level institutions(which currently stands at £9250), while British students arriving in Ireland will only need to pay the €3000 student contribution.
As it stands, the UK guarantees its continued participation in ongoing Erasmus projects as negotiations are carried out over the exact terms of its’ EU departure. If no alternative agreement is made it will cease to participate in the 2021-2027 phase of Erasmus+.
Erasmus began in 1987, and currently encompasses student, work and culture exchanges across Europe. Every year the UK is sending out over 20,000 students to Erasmus Partner Universities, about 800 of whom are Northern Irish.
Despite the UK’s lack of commitment, Carmichael said she was “confident that the long-standing ties between this university and many UK universities (stretching back centuries) will continue indefinitely”. Nevertheless, she was also clear that “Trinity will do everything in its powers to highlight how this arrangement should continue indefinitely”.