The Turing Scheme Vs. Erasmus+

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Turing Scheme Vs. Erasmus+

For 25 years, colleges and universities all over the UK have been participating in the EU funded Erasmus programme, now commonly known as Erasmus+, to help send both students and staff abroad on learning and development placements.

However, after the UK voted to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson turned down the offer of continuing to participate in the Erasmus+ programme after Brexit in favour of launching the Turing scheme.

Johnson, at the time of announcing the programme said the global Erasmus replacement would involve “the best universities” across the world. 

Named after famed mathematician Alan Turing, the scheme will replicate the same basic idea of Erasmus by providing financial support to students while studying abroad.

There are, however, a few key differences between the Turing scheme and the Erasmus+ programme that we’ll discuss throughout this article.

What exactly is the Turing scheme?

The Turing scheme is a new initiative that will enable UK students to embark on study placements in universities, schools, or further education colleges across Europe and the rest of the world.

Universities and other organisations across Great Britain and Northern Ireland can apply for grants to help cover travel expenses, living costs, and administrative costs of running the scheme.

Applications are made by recognised bodies such as universities or schools. If successful, these institutions can then invite their students to apply for individual funding. 

Universities minister Michelle Donelan appears confident when speaking of the Turing scheme and says it will “enable up to 35,000 students throughout the UK to work or study across the globe”.

The scheme will come into effect from September 2021.

Which countries take part?

When the Erasmus programme first launched in 1987, it existed as a stand-alone project for only eleven member states (Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and United Kingdom).

In its infant year, only 3,244 students went abroad. In contrast, 16,561 students from the UK alone participated in 2017 - 20 years since the programmes launch. In the same year, 31,727 EU nationals came to the UK.

Today, Erasmus has 34 full member states including Non-EU countries such as Norway and Iceland. Other partner countries (those who can take part in certain Actions under Erasmus+) include Georgia and Egypt.  

The Turing scheme aims to provide placements for UK students across the globe and won’t distinguish between European countries and those from further afield. Student choices should, therefore, be a lot more open and varied.

How much funding is on offer?

Under Erasmus, the amount of money you receive depends on where you are going and whether you are a student, apprentice, trainee, or staff.

To assist with the general cost of living, the Turing scheme will offer different amounts based on where students are studying and for how long for.

Destination countries are grouped into three categories: Group 1 (high cost of living), Group 2 (medium), and Group 3 (low).

A student from the UK who successfully earns a placement in a Group 1 country such as Australia will receive £380 per month if their stay lasts longer than eight weeks.   

Meanwhile, a student going to a European country such as Spain (in Group 2) would receive £335 per month. Erasmus rates for the academic year 2020-21 assigned students on exchange placements in Spain £317 per month.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds receive additional funding in both Erasmus and Turing schemes. The Turing scheme does however, go further than providing additional money every month. It will also assist poorer students with travel costs between home and their destination organisation with the amount provided dependant on the distance travelled. 

A student travelling between 8,000 and 12,000 km for example, would receive £905 to support the cost of the round trip.

The Turing scheme will also assist disadvantaged students with additional funding support for passports/visas/insurance and luggage. Any student who does not meet the criteria for this additional support can apply for student travel grants through official government channels in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

Will I have to pay tuition?

With the Erasmus scheme, UK students did not have to pay tuition fees to study abroad because it was a reciprocal arrangement – students in other Erasmus member states could study in the UK tuition free also.   

The Turing scheme will not pay tuition fees for UK students studying abroad or for overseas students to come to the UK. Instead, it is relying on fees being waived by universities and colleges to encourage student exchange.

Will I need a visa?   

Because of Brexit, UK students and other nationals are only allowed to stay in an EU country for 90 days out of every 180 days without a visa.

If you’re studying outside of Europe, you can check individual country advice for countries around the world on the official UK government website.

You can find out more about travelling to Europe after Brexit here

Please be advised that applications for the Turing scheme are now closed for the current academic year.

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