Thanks to Brexit the UK will not have to pay for 159 new Erasmus+ projects worldwide

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readAug 8, 2023

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Another Brexit Benefit — UK avoids £m’s of costs as EU splashes the cash globally

Last Thursday (03 Aug 2023), the EU Commission proudly announced the funding of a further 159 Erasmus+ projects, costing an extra €120.3 million (approx GBP 104m) this year. None of this money will be spent in EU countries to the benefit of EU students

If the United Kingdom had still been a member of the EU, it would have been forced to cover a significant proportion of this expenditure. All of this comes as part of the overall budget for Erasmus+ of €26.2 billion — of which only one-third is being spent on higher education.

A full two-thirds of the Erasmus+ budget isn’t for any form of exchange for young people. It’s for “partnerships and reforms of the education and youth sectors.” Only one-third of the budget is for “learning opportunities abroad for young people”

Today I can show our young people some examples of where the Erasmus+ budget is being spent by the EU Commission.

Here is what the EU Commission said on Thursday

“Today, the Commission selected 159 projects for funding under Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education, which supports the modernisation and quality of higher education in third countries worldwide.”

“Through the projects selected this year, 2,500 higher education stakeholders from almost 130 EU countries and across the world will work together to modernise and internationalise higher education. The overall 2023 budget of €115.3 million [plus €5m for Ukraine — Ed.] will for example advance the professionalisation of maths in Central Africa; university studies in equity and equality law for vulnerable groups in Latin America; curricula for a sustainable blue economy in the Southern Mediterranean; and courses for transformative change in health education in South-East Asia.

“Projects in other regions focus on entrepreneurship skills for Central Asian women, digital education readiness in the Western Balkans, developing universities’ international relations offices in the Middle East, and food and nutrition resilience curricula in Western Africa.”

The commission will take the credit — the UK would have received no recognition in all these countries

In all the 130 countries around the world receiving this additional largesse from the EU Commission, the UK would have received no credit. The people of these countries would simply have seen plaques saying “Funded by the EU”.

They would have had no indication that the people of the United Kingdom would have contributed significantly in each case.

10 examples from this year’s new selection of 159 projects in 130 countries include the following

  • Universities in the Western Balkans working on “zero-carbon solutions for maritime transport and logistics”
  • “Professionalisation of trainers” for maths and English teachers in Central Africa
  • Courses for “transformative change in health education” in South-East Asia
  • “Equity and equality law” for university studies in Latin America for vulnerable groups
  • Curricula for “sustainable blue economy” in the Southern Mediterranean
  • “Culture Couture — Merging Fashion and Tradition for Sustainable Style” — Kosovo
  • “Harvesting (digital) Alternation in Ways that Knock-down Inaccessibility of New Generation” — Montenegro
  • “Enhancing Graduates’ Employability Tracking in Moldova”
  • “Enhancing sustainable and green leather technology in Indonesia”

It doesn’t stop there

There will be four more annual selections that will take place, with the next call for proposals to be launched in November of this year.

There may be certain parts of the student body — particularly those who haven’t yet had to earn their living — who feel that what the EU Commission is doing is laudable and that these projects involved around the world are worth supporting.

My view is that this is in effect foreign aid, and should not come out of a budget which was originally set up many years ago to encourage student exchanges. I would add that at a time when the cost of living is worrying so many people, this should be the time for spending money at home, not on academic projects of dubious value halfway around the world.

Fortunately, thanks to Brexit, the UK is no longer committed to spending a significant part of €22.6bn (approx £19.5bn GBP) on politically motivated programmes such as this.

Another benefit of Brexit

These days, as I have pointed out in the report, Erasmus+ cannot truly be said to be a programme designed to allow students to spend a year at a foreign university. With two-thirds of the €22.6bn budget going on other things, it is not surprising that the United Kingdom’s new Turing scheme has been such a success with students, so quickly.

Young people often ask “Show me any benefits of Brexit”. Well, the Turing scheme is another one.

https://medium.com/@1949graham/brexit-britain-does-it-again-eu-s-erasmus-is-shown-to-be-useless-e24c73ea885c

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.