Oh dear, Nicola! Sturgeon humiliated as EU shoots down hopes of joining Erasmus
Nicola Sturgeon slams UK's departure from Erasmus scheme
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During a behind-closed-doors meeting with MEPs, European Commission vice-president Mr Sefcovic said the bloc would never allow Scotland to participate in the overseas study scheme. According to a leaked transcript, Slovakian Mr Sefcovic on Monday told members of the European Parliament’s Brexit committee: “There is no special treatment for Scotland in sight.
“The United Kingdom is now a non-EU country.”
There were no plans to create “any new tools for the inter-mobility of students between the EU and the UK”, he insisted.
Mr Sefcovic’s blunt comments follow similar remarks by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in February.
She said: “The only possibility for the UK is to associate as a whole, or not at all.”
The UK is still in evolved in some EU schemes despite severing ties with Brussels.
For example, it has signed up to the Horizon research programme for scientists, although the smouldering row over the Northern Ireland Protocol means its membership has been temporarily blocked.
However, last December Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the Government was withdrawing from Erasmus, with then-Brexit negotiator Lord Frost unhappy at the £2 billion price tag which would have been payable to Brussels over the course of seven years.
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Downing Street then unveiled plans for a replacement, the Turing Scheme, to enable 35,000 British university students to study all over the world.
The name comes from Alan Turing, the Bletchley Park code breaker and mathematician.
Speaking in February Mike Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary, claimed devolved nations “were not told the truth” about Brexit by the Government.
At Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee on Tuesday, Mr Russell said: “Let’s not give up.
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“There may be all sorts of possibilities we can look at but it is a loss, it’s a substantial loss.
“I would want to continue to argue.
“We’ve got lots of friends in the European Parliament who are very, very keen that we continue to have some association.”
He added: “We can see Ireland is taking Northern Irish young people under its wing and they will be associated with the scheme through Irish institutions and organisations.
“We need to continue to think about what we can do.”
Mr Russell continued: “The UK Government knew perfectly well the view of the devolved governments on this matter and we were not told the truth about it.
“We were never shown the value for money assessment was undertaken, and right up until virtually the end, we believe that the UK Government was intending to stay in or at least trying to stay in. It was shocking.”
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced plans for to spend £2.25 million on so-called Saltire scholarships.
Officials vowed to “attract EU students (to Scotland) following the drop-off in applications since the UK’s departure from the EU”.
Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Higher and Further Education told Express.co.uk: “Having removed Scotland from the EU against our democratic wishes, the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from Erasmus+ has been devastating – for learners, schools, colleges, and universities alike.
“The Scottish Government remains committed to Erasmus+ and will continue to explore how best re-secure Scotland’s access to it. In the interim and in recognition of the importance of educational mobility, we are developing a Scottish Education Exchange Programme to support participants from across Scotland’s education system. Post-Brexit, we are determined to strengthen and repair our institution’s international links.”
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