LibDems fail in an attempt to resurrect their reputation with students.
On Wednesday this week Layla Moran, LibDem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, put forward an amendment to the Withdrawal Bill regarding the EU’s €30bn education programme called Erasmus+. Commonly thought of as an exchange programme allowing students to study abroad, I lift the lid on this vastly expensive youth indoctrination project.
First, however, Layla Moran MP should learn about Erasmus before lecturing people.
Here is what Ms Moran said in Parliament
“For students, young people, those in training and staff who work in the education sector, the Erasmus scheme has been absolutely incredible.”
“From 2014 to the end of this year alone, €1 billion has been allocated to support the UK as part of Erasmus+. New clause 10 would only require the Government to seek — to do what they say they want to do, but let us be sure — to negotiate continuing full membership of the future Erasmus education and youth programme.”
“Let us remind ourselves what Erasmus does. It allows our young people to go abroad to European universities, to learn new languages, to meet new people, to put down some roots abroad and to build the international understanding that, in my view, is a big part of what it means to be British.”
Layla Mortan MP, Wed 08 Jan 2020
However, FACT In the last year for which figures are available from the EU (2017), the UK received just €62 million for higher education grants under Erasmus+. As with the EU budget as a whole, the UK subsidises the EU27 countries with Erasmus+.
About Layla Moran MP
Ms Moran is the LibDem’s spokesperson for Education, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. So what does this say about her ability to do that job? Well, the first thing she should know and didn't, is the money aspect. €62 million is a long way off €1 billion
She says she is “British-Palestinian” and now lives in a same-sex relationship, describing herself as “pansexual”.
She was educated at private schools (including Roedean and the Brussels International School) and subsequently became a teacher at private schools. Her father worked for the EU.
Here are a few facts she should know.
UK students using Erasmus+ to study abroad only 9,615
Non-UK students using Erasmus+ to study in UK 18,702
Almost twice as many EU27 students benefit, compared to UK students
Total number of UK students 1.87 million
The proportion of UK students using the EU’s Erasmus+ program only 0.51%
Pro-rata by population, the UK should be 11.0% of the total Erasmus+ student numbers
In fact, the figure for the UK is only 4.3%
Non-UK Erasmus+ students benefit 2.5 times more than UK students, pro-rated by population
EU’s Erasmus+ budget is set to double, from €14.7 billion to €30 billion
According to the UN, more UK students go to the US and Australia than the rest of the EU combined.
What is the EU’s Erasmus+ programme?
There are many ways in which the EU channels British taxpayer money back to the UK, dressed as though it were ‘Funded by the EU’. One of these is the Erasmus+ programme
Erasmus+ is one of those EU ‘projects’ which even Brexiteer politicians say they might want to keep paying into after Brexit. The government has as yet made no guarantees, so this is the ideal time for everyone to learn about this (supposedly) educational programme.
Erasmus+ is “the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe,” says the EU Commission.
This new version of Erasmus started in 2014, with a 40% increase in funding and a significant increase in its scope. It is now set to double on top of that.
This scope now covers matters which have little to do with higher education, such as ‘youth exchanges’ and ‘volunteering’. It even includes programmes to “develop new teaching practices or curricula” — something most people probably think is the role of the Dept for Education in the UK.
Erasmus funds and “promote — among other things — good governance, social inclusion, the fight against racism, dual careers, and physical activity for all.”
1/3rd of the budget goes on “partnerships and reforms of the education and youth sectors”
What does all this cost?
In the EU’s current budgeting period, the cost of Erasmus+ is €14.7 billion.
In the EU’s next budgeting period from 2020, the cost of Erasmus is projected at €30 billion — more than double.
But Erasmus+ is all about education and so many young people benefit”
Many British people (including our young people) imagine that Erasmus+ is all about giving our students a chance to study for all or part of their degrees abroad. However, this is just a minor part of the whole programme.
This entire project is much more insidious and far-reaching in its aims.
Erasmus+ is no longer all about education in the sense most people understand the word, and the majority of it has nothing to do with degree courses. In common with most other areas of the EU’s activities, Erasmus has expanded way beyond its original brief.
In common with many people care deeply about educational opportunities for young people. I believe that students who go to study for a period in another country benefit enormously, as do students who come to the UK to study.
No-one is suggesting for one moment that students should be prevented from studying abroad after Brexit. The key question is how the money that is being spent — by the UK government OR by the EU spending UK money. Everyone would surely agree that UK taxpayer money should be wisely allocated to the benefit of as many British students as possible, and not to subsidise students from the EU27.
I simply don’t believe Erasmus+ offers value for money, as is so often the case with EU programmes, and that Brexit offers an opportunity to present students with a wider range of possibilities.
[ Sources: Hansard | EU Commission Erasmus+ 2017 report | Universities UK 2017 data | UNESCO 2017 data | HESA ]