TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, has today published a Parliamentary activity update for the education sector.
Written Answers and Statements:
Department for Education
5 January 2021
Lord Greaves (Lib Dem): To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their requirements for the continuation of the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme beyond the 2021/22 academic year; whether they have any plans for a UK-only scheme if an agreement for such participation is not reached; and if so, what are the (1) principles, and (2) requirements, of any such scheme.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Lord in Waiting): As part of our negotiations with the EU about our future relationship, the government considered the EU programmes with which the UK was involved and decided whether or not we should continue to seek participation in these programmes. Our public mandate set out that we would consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time-limited basis, provided that the terms were in the UK’s interests. Unfortunately, the only terms on offer would have meant that the UK would have been likely to pay in around £2 billion more than we would get out over the term of the next programme. The government decided that that would not have provided value for money and be in the interests of the UK taxpayer. Instead, as an independent and sovereign country, we will proceed with the introduction of a new international educational exchange scheme which has a genuinely global reach and which increases social mobility. The newly announced Turing scheme, which replaces the UK’s participation in Erasmus+, will allow thousands of students to study and take part in work placements in the EU and beyond. The scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021. The new scheme will also target students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas which did not previously have many students benefiting from Erasmus+, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country. The programme will provide similar opportunities for students to study and work abroad as the Erasmus+ programme, but it will include countries across the world, and it aims to deliver greater value for money to taxpayers. The government will set out further details in the coming weeks.
Department for Education
21 January 2021
Lord Sikka (Lab): To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional resources they plan to make available to (1) schools, (2) colleges, and (3) universities, to administer the Turing scheme.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State): The Turing scheme will be backed by at least £100 million of public money, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021. We will be making further information available very shortly to enable providers to prepare to bid for funding when applications open in the coming weeks. Successful applicants will receive funding for administering the scheme and students taking part will receive grants to help them with the costs of their international experience. We are pleased that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of the British Council and Ecorys which has been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, so will be able to draw on those organisations’ experience of working with education providers across the UK and ensure helpful continuity. Further details of the scheme will be published shortly.
Turing Scheme: EU Nationals
Department for Education
21 January 2021
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (Green): To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that those people from EU member states due to participate in the Eramus+ scheme in the UK have access to the Turing scheme.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State): Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the 2014–20 Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive funding for the full duration of the project, including those where it runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period. The government has decided that it is not in the UK’s interests to seek continuing participation in the next Erasmus+ programme. Instead, we are introducing a new international educational exchange scheme which has a genuinely global reach. Under the Turing scheme, UK universities, colleges, and schools will be able to bid for funding to enable their students to travel abroad for study and work placements – for any of their students, regardless of nationality.
Department for Education
21 January 2021
Baroness Randerson (Lib Dem): To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK no longer participating in Erasmus+ on the number of international students studying at UK universities.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State): Throughout our negotiations with the EU, the government carefully considered the potential impacts of launching a new scheme compared to continuing to participate in the Erasmus+ scheme under the terms on offer. The design of the Turing scheme has been driven by our ambition for a truly global, UK-wide scheme, and we are confident that international students will continue to want to study in the UK’s world-leading educational institutions. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with 4 universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100 – more than the whole of the EU in total. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international students in higher education, with approximately 486,000 overseas students. It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchange schemes. We will harness this advantage to deliver an international education exchange programme which has a genuinely global reach, establishing new relationships with academic institutions not just across Europe but also the rest of the world. More broadly, our updated International Education Strategy will respond to the challenges of COVID-19. It will set out how the government will support the whole of the UK’s education sector in the recovery of its international activity, pursuing our ambition to increase the value of our education exports to £35 billion per annum and to increase the number of international higher education students hosted in the UK to 600,000 per annum, both by 2030.
Erasmus+ exchange programme
26 January 2021
Joint statement confirms work will continue to secure the benefits of programme.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments have issued a joint statement on the Erasmus+ exchange programme.
The statement, agreed by Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead and Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams, says the UK Government’s decision not to associate with Erasmus will reduce opportunities for all learners and cut support for the most deprived communities. It confirms that the Scottish and Welsh Governments will explore how both countries can continue to enjoy the benefits offered by Erasmus+.
Joint statement between Scottish and Welsh Governments on Erasmus+
The Scottish and Welsh Governments have always been united in our view that participation in Erasmus+ is in the best interests for the whole of the UK. The UK Government’s decision not to associate to the programme is therefore deeply disappointing: a decision that will see support for our most deprived communities cut, and opportunities for all our learners reduced.
Our participation in Erasmus+ has helped transform the lives of thousands of our students, schoolchildren, teachers, adult learners and young people, from all across the UK. In Scotland proportionally more participants have gone abroad through Erasmus+ than from anywhere else in the UK, while proportionally more visitors from the rest of Europe have visited Scotland in return. Schools in Wales have led the UK in winning Erasmus+ funding for strategic partnership projects on innovative topics such as green energy, artificial intelligence, and promoting inclusivity in the classroom.
Erasmus+ is about so much more than just university exchanges. In fact, when taken together, more Erasmus+ funding is set aside for further education, schools, adult education and youth groups than for universities. Participating in an Erasmus+ exchange has proven to increase people’s self-confidence, cultural awareness, second-language learning ability, and employability. What’s more, these benefits are most pronounced for participants coming from the UK’s most deprived areas, and those furthest removed from traditional education.
The UK Government’s proposed alternative, by comparison, is a lesser imitation of the real thing. The Turing Scheme, funded at £105 million for one year, pales in comparison to Erasmus+, which has now had its budget for the next seven years increased to €26.2 billion. Turing will offer no funding to the international partners that are needed to allow mobilities to take place unlike Erasmus+, where both parties are awarded funding to facilitate the exchange of learners from one country to another. Turing will also fail to support any of the strategic partnerships currently supported by Erasmus+, which help to build relationships with partners in Europe.
Furthermore, Turing will offer no support whatsoever for our adult education or youth work sectors, while support for our colleges, schools and vocational education and training sectors will be significantly reduced, with limited amounts of funding being made available to each. In doing this the UK Government is sending a message that only universities are deserving of full support, and that those in other forms of education – often from our most deprived communities – are not. They are taking away opportunities from our most vulnerable learners, and in doing so reinforcing pre-existing inequalities.
It is all the more unacceptable then that the UK Government is looking to impose this inadequate scheme upon Scotland and Wales through new legislation that overrides the devolved nature of education. We have been clear that what they are proposing is simply not good enough, and that instead any replacement funding for Erasmus+ should be given in the first instance to the Scottish and Welsh Governments, to allow us to exercise our right to deliver educational services within our respective nations.
We will carry on making these arguments, and continue to advocate for those sectors who once enjoyed the benefits of Erasmus+, and who have been abandoned by the UK Government.
We have been heartened by the outpouring of support from across Europe for our continued participation in Erasmus+. This is something that Wales, Scotland, and Europe all want; the UK Government stands isolated in its opposition. We want the whole of the UK to stay, but we will now explore how Scotland and Wales can continue to enjoy the benefits offered by Erasmus+.
Building back better with apprenticeships
Department for Education
8 February 2021
National Apprenticeship Week 2021 celebrates the apprentices and employers that have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.
Today (8 February) marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, which this year shines a light on the apprentices and employers who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.
To kick off the week, the government has announced brand new sector specific traineeship pilots in construction and rail to start this summer so more young people can gain the skills and confidence they need to get a job, or progress into an apprenticeship in key sectors of the economy. The experience from these traineeship opportunities will enable more young people to fast track their career, with many able to potentially complete their apprenticeship more quickly as a result of prior learning covered in the traineeship programme.
Apprentices from all walks of life have been working on the front line and many have played a key role in supporting the country throughout the pandemic, including on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that is helping the country overcome the virus. Emilia Reyes Pabon, an apprentice Technician Scientist at the University of Oxford, worked on the UK’s first COVID-19 vaccine to enter clinical trials. This vaccine, which Emilia worked on, gives people good protection against the new coronavirus variant which is now dominant in the UK.
Advanced Engineering Apprentices Jack Day, Christopher Robinson and Christopher Young, at the Science and Technology Facilities Council, helped in the national effort to produce 20 years’ worth of mechanical ventilators in just 12 weeks.
Elsewhere, Ethan Brennan has worked during the pandemic on a respiratory ward, carrying out daily healthcare duties. As with all apprentices he was offered the opportunity to move to a more low risk area, but declined as he wanted to remain in his original placement to care for the elderly patients and support the team.
Apprenticeships and traineeships play a vital role in making sure people have the skills they need to get a well-paid job. They play a key part in the government’s Plan for Jobs, designed to protect, support and create jobs for all ages as we build back better from the pandemic.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan said:
‘Coronavirus has had a huge impact on lives and livelihoods. As we build back better from the pandemic, we need to make sure people are able to take advantage of the opportunities apprenticeships provide.
‘Whether it’s the benefits to the individual – the chance to earn while you learn, opening up new career paths that can transform lives. Or the benefits to business giving access new talent from all backgrounds.
‘This National Apprenticeship Week we should celebrate the apprentices up and down the country who have been stepping up throughout the pandemic to support the national effort. I am calling on everyone to get involved in to raise awareness of all the fantastic opportunities that are out there and share their inspiring stories.’
Employers across the country including BT, Amazon, Accenture and Metropolitan Police have also continued to invest in and recognise the benefits apprentices are bringing to their workplaces, by pledging to offer thousands of exciting apprenticeship opportunities.
Apprenticeships provide people with the opportunity to earn and learn the skills needed to start an exciting career in a wide range of industries – everything from artificial intelligence, archaeology, data science, business management and banking. They are also supporting businesses of all sizes up and down the country to future proof their workforces, helping the country and the economy to build back better.
The highly successful traineeship programme has already helped nearly 120,000 young people get on the path to a great career since 2013. Recent figures show that 66% of trainees get a job, take up an apprenticeship or go on to further study within 6 months of completing their programme.
The programmes last between 6 weeks and 12 months, and focus on developing vital employability skills, alongside additional English, maths and digital skills, combined with a work placement lasting a minimum of 70 hours.
Steve Radley, Director of Strategy and Policy at CITB said:
‘Getting more college students into construction jobs is a big challenge which the new Construction Traineeship should make a lot easier by providing a springboard for learners to start work or an apprenticeship. With job opportunities currently growing faster in construction than in many other industries, this is the right time for industry, Government, colleges and CITB to work together on practical solutions to bridge the gap between FE and work. Starting with bricklaying and moving on to the other occupations in a few months, we can make real progress this year.’
Neil Robertson, Chief Executive at the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), said:
‘Through Traineeships NSAR is delighted to be creating new opportunities for talent to access the Rail sector. At a time of great challenge for Business, young people, and our future workforce, it is critical that we accelerate our ambitions to engage, attract and recruit for industries future skills needs. The development and delivery of high quality Traineeships will be a key entry point for members alongside, Apprenticeships, T-Levels and Kickstart. I am pleased that NSAR, with the support of side key industry leads and government, has been able to establish this provision in a collaborative, coherent and timely manner.
‘At its heart, the new Rail Traineeship gives employers more opportunities to create relevant, engaging and work relevant training, alongside quality partners.’
Thousands of virtual events will take place throughout National Apprenticeship Week with leading employers including Rolls-Royce, Capgemini and Virgin Media, giving people the chance to find out more about the amazing benefits apprenticeships offer.
To support employers to take on more apprentices the government is offering up to £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire. Almost nineteen thousand applications have been submitted by employers. The cash boost is available until March 2021, so businesses can create even more opportunities and give more people the life changing chance to start a great career.
Employers can also now apply for a £1000 cash boost to help them take on new trainees.