McArthur calls out SNP for shelving Erasmus replacement indefinitely

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has today criticised the Scottish Government's ongoing failure to deliver on its promise of a Scottish exchange programme to replace the Erasmus scheme.

Following the UK's departure from the EU, the UK left the Erasmus+ student exchange programme that provided funding for education, training and sport, with a particular focus on youth work.

At last year's election, the SNP committed to "create a Scottish programme of exchange to provide mobility and cooperation opportunities in higher education, vocational education and training, school education (including early childhood education and care), adult education, youth and sport".

However, in response to a parliamentary question from Mr McArthur, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education Jamie Hepburn confirmed that "Currently, Scottish Government have no confirmed timetable for a consultation process for the proposed Scottish Education Exchange programme."

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"The Erasmus+ programme was a fantastic initiative which opened up the world for Scottish universities and students alike.  It helped build relationships and provided invaluable life experiences for so many young people.  Sadly, it became a needless casualty of Brexit.

"At the election, the SNP promised a Scottish exchange programme.  However, progress towards delivery has been slow and now seems to have been shelved indefinitely.

"While Ministers in Wales had a new scheme up and running within months of the Brexit vote, the SNP have been on a go slow.  It is all very well for the First Minister to burnish her pro-European credentials in an election campaign, but she needs to ensure her Ministers then put in the hard work to deliver in practice.

"Orkney has benefited from Erasmus in the past and is well placed to do so in the future.  As home to campuses for three internationally renowned universities, our islands have been highly successful in attracting students and staff from all around the world.  Likewise, many young Orcadians have taken full advantage of the opportunity to travel and study abroad.

"It's time Scottish Ministers took a leaf out of Wales’ book and got a scheme up and running.  Otherwise a generation of young people risk missing out."

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