Brexit could mean the end of studying abroad

11,000 people have already backed a petition to save the Erasmus scheme

Prominent campaigners have warned that a hard Brexit will be the end of the much loved Erasmus programme, on the 30th anniversary of the EU’s scheme.

The exchange scheme has benefited more than 9,000 students and apprentices in Greater Manchester since 2007, and a further 12,373 were expected to benefit in the new and expanded programme in the coming years, enjoying everything from grants to cover tuition, travel and living costs.

Prominent Remain campaigner and former Manchester MP, John Leech, said the government should be fighting to defend the UK’s participation in Erasmus in the negotiations ahead and that failing to do so would be a “huge betrayal” to the thousands of young people in Manchester who were set to benefit from the exchange programme in the coming years.

John Leech, now a Manchester councillor, said: “Thousands of students and apprentices in Manchester have benefited from Erasmus, giving them the chance to learn a new language, discover a new culture and make lifelong friends abroad. Young people across the country and here in Manchester voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and this government is about to rob a whole generation of the most wonderful and unique opportunity to study and train abroad for the sake of an ill-considered and aggressive Brexit agenda.”

Erasmus is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987 allowing students to have a straightforward route to spend between three and 12 months studying, training and working across Europe as part of their course.

Jane Brophy, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester pledged to block Brexit and protect the Erasmus scheme, saying: “We are hurtling towards a hard Brexit which will have an enormous and detrimental impact on Greater Manchester, and I will fight against it every single step of the way.”

Since the announcement, more than 11,000 people have backed the Liberal Democrat’s petition calling on the Government to protect participation in Erasmus in the Brexit negotiations.