The future of the Erasmus student exchange program in the United Kingdom has been thrown into doubt by the possibility that Britain will leave the European Union – a process popularly known as “Brexit” – without a deal.
The Erasmus program was created more than 30 years ago by the European Union as a way to bring the continent together through university research and education. The EU sets aside €16.38 billion of its budget to fund the program but there is concern students who want to study in the UK will not receive financial support if there is a so-called hard Brexit, whereby the UK crashes out of the 28-country bloc without a deal.
University students currently enrolled will not be affected but those studying in the 2019-2020 period could lose their scholarships if the British parliament does not ratify a Withdrawal Agreement before March 29.
The Brexit deal that Theresa May has secured establishes a transitory period that would allow the scholarships to be extended until 2021. But this means nothing unless it is signed off. The European Commission agreed at the end of January to continue financing the scholarships of students who began their studies before the Brexit deadline but what will happen in the next university year remains to be seen.