EU row erupts as gloating Guy Verhofstadt mocks UK over Erasmus alternative

EU row erupts as gloating Guy Verhofstadt mocks UK over Erasmus alternative

Remainers have lost it after Brexiteer Sir Tim Martin received a knighthood

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 05/01/2024

- 08:33

Updated: 05/01/2024

- 08:34

The Turing Scheme, which was launched in 2021, was not set up to create reciprocal arrangements

Europhile Guy Verhofstadt has mercilessly mocked Brexit Britain over its alternative to the Erasmus scheme.

The former Belgian Prime Minister, who led the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, persistently criticises the United Kingdom for leaving the Brussels bloc.

Verhofstadt, 70, highlighted a report suggesting British university students have been forced to abandon plans to study or work abroad due to the Turing Scheme’s "problematic" funding timeline.

The analysis, published by IFF Research, claimed disadvantaged young people may have been deterred from participating in the UK’s post-Brexit alternative to the Erasmus+ programme.

Guy Verhofstadt Member of the European Parliament speaks to the press at Downing Street

Guy Verhofstadt Member of the European Parliament speaks to the press at Downing Street


Verhofstadt said: “Yet another post-Brexit ‘alternative’ turns out suboptimal…

“There is one alternative… especially for young Britons: Undo Brexit and Rejoin!”

However, the Belgian MEP is not the first Europhile in Brussels to suggest the UK could return to the bloc.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in November: “I keep telling my children: 'You have to fix it. We goofed it up, you have to fix it'.”

A group of university graduates

A group of university graduates


The report highlighted how participants completing a year abroad often needed to leave in July or August, before being aware whether financial support would be available.

It said: "There was a general view that some delivery issues raised had a greater impact on participants from a disadvantaged background and may have created barriers to many participating.

"Providers said that the timing of when application outcomes were confirmed (ie after many participants would have had to already commit to their placement abroad) meant some who could not afford the upfront cost or the risk of funding not being available down the line dropped out."

The report, commissioned by the Department for Education, stressed many participants described receiving the funds while already on placement or upon their return.

Robert Halfon MP

Robert Halfon MP


It explained: "This was particularly challenging for participants who needed upfront costs to secure housing or for initial travel, which could be expensive."

However, on minister in the Department of Education stressed the Turing scheme was a “game-changer” for students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Robert Halfon, who serves as Higher Education Minister, said: "The Turing Scheme is a real game-changer for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, empowering them with transformative opportunities abroad, a chance to experience other cultures and learn vital skills for life and work.

"It showcases our positive ambition post-Brexit, fostering a global outlook for more students who deserve every chance to thrive.

"Young people benefit from inspirational placements around the world, not just Europe, building the confidence and skills they need for their future, whilst bolstering the Government's drive for a Global Britain."

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