On 15 January 2021, the Government published two Written Answers about its replacement for the Erasmus+ scheme, the Turing Scheme.
Taiwo Owatemi MP, Labour member for Coventry North West, and Owen Thompson MP, SNP member for Midlothian, asked the Government about its assessment of the costs of the two schemes, the motivations for making its decision and what impact the new scheme might have on the higher education sector.
The Government highlights the proposed £2 billion net contribution required by the EU for participation in the next Erasmus+ programme. The Government believes that this would not provide adequate value for money. As a result, the Government is establishing the Turing Scheme, which will be backed by over £100 million for the first academic year. This is less than the proposed £600 million UK annual contribution to the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.
The Government states that the new scheme will allow for up to 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to study and work overseas, starting in September 2021. According to the Government, unlike the Erasmus+ scheme, students will be able to study at universities around the world and not just in Europe.
Please see the full text of the Written Answers below.
Department for Education
15 January 2021
Taiwo Owatemi (Lab): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what comparative assessment he has made of the cost to the public purse of the Erasmus scheme and proposed Turing Scheme.
Michelle Donelan (Minister of State for Universities): The UK is already a significant net contributor to Erasmus+. The government estimates that the UK’s notional contribution to the current (2014-2020) programme over its seven-year duration will be around €1.8 billion, whilst the UK expected to receive around €1 billion in receipts over the course of the programme.
The budget for the next programme is nearly doubling from €14 billion to €26 billion. In order to participate in Erasmus+, the EU proposed new terms of participation for the UK which included a participation fee in addition to a GDP-based contribution. The only terms on offer to the UK for Erasmus+ participation would mean that we would likely make a gross contribution in the region of £600 million per annum and pay in around £2 billion more than we would get out over the course of the next programme. We obviously respect the right of the EU to set the terms for participation in its programmes but, in this case, we did not believe those terms represented value for money for the UK taxpayer.
Therefore, as an independent and sovereign country, it is also right that we will proceed with the introduction of a new international educational exchange scheme that has a genuinely global reach. The government remains committed to international education exchanges and that is why we have committed to funding the Turing scheme.
The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million for the academic year. This includes the costs of administering the scheme, and I am pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys, which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity. This will fund similar levels of student outbound mobilities as under Erasmus and provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021.
The Turing scheme will also go further than Erasmus+ by including countries across the world, while delivering greater value for money to taxpayers.
Owen Thompson (SNP): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on higher education of the Turing Scheme not providing funding for incoming foreign students.
Owen Thompson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether cost efficiency is the primary factor driving decision-making on the design of the Turing Scheme.
Michelle Donelan: In deciding to launch the Turing scheme as an alternative to Erasmus+, the Government carefully considered the benefits of Erasmus+ and a domestic alternative scheme including cost and our ambitions for a global scheme that supports social mobility. On cost, Erasmus+ participation would have entailed a net cost in the region of £2 billion more than we received from the programme in funding over the seven-year period and an annual gross contribution of £600 million. As such we do not consider Erasmus+ participation to be value-for-money and in the interests of the UK taxpayer.
The design of the Turing scheme will be driven by our ambition for a truly global UK wide scheme that promotes social mobility and provides excellent value for money for the taxpayer. These principles underpin the decision-making on the design of the scheme, including the decision not to fund inward mobility.
The Government has carefully considered whether to fund inward mobility as part of the scheme design, including through discussions with the sector, and is confident that students will continue to want to study in the UK. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with four universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international HE students with approximately 486,000 students from abroad and has been one of the most popular destinations within Erasmus+.
It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchanges. We will harness this to deliver an international education exchange programme that has a genuinely global reach, establishing new relationships with academic institutions across Europe and the rest of the world.
In terms of direct income to higher education providers, we expect tuition fees to be waived for Turing scheme participants consistent with the arrangements for Erasmus+.
More generally, the International Education Strategy update, will respond to the COVID-19 context, challenges, and opportunities setting out how the Government will support the whole of the UK’s education sector in the recovery of its international activity in pursuit of the original IES ambitions to increase the value of our education exports to £35 billion per year, and to increase the number of international higher education students hosted in the UK to 600,000 per year, both by 2030.