Why is Erasmus+ Important?
1. Economic Impact: The Erasmus+ Programme has historically contributed significantly to the UK economy. According to statistics from the UK Higher Education International Unit, between 2007 and 2013, the UK received over £500 million more in funding from the European Union for education and training than it contributed. This funding supported student exchanges, research collaborations, and academic partnerships. Exiting Erasmus+ has resulted in a loss of financial support that could have further stimulated the UK's education sector and economy.
2. Enhanced Educational Opportunities: Participation in Erasmus+ opens doors for students, allowing them to study, train, or volunteer abroad. Before the UK's withdrawal, around 17,000 UK students annually benefited from Erasmus+ exchanges. These opportunities not only enrich students' academic experiences but also provide them with invaluable cultural exposure and language skills that are increasingly crucial in a globalised job market.
3. International Collaboration and Research: Erasmus+ facilitates collaboration between universities, research institutions, and businesses across Europe. Studies have shown that academic mobility positively impacts research output. For instance, a European University Association (EUA) report indicates that the Erasmus+ Programme led to a 2-4% increase in joint research publications between participating countries. Rejoining Erasmus+ would enable the UK to once again actively engage in collaborative research projects, fostering innovation and knowledge sharing.
4. Cultural Exchange and Soft Power: The Programme promotes cultural understanding and solidarity among European nations. By participating, the UK can strengthen its soft power by fostering positive relationships and networks with European countries. This cultural exchange is vital in fostering mutual understanding, tolerance, and cooperation in an increasingly interconnected world.
5. Student Mobility and Future Prospects: Erasmus+ participation positively impacts employability. Studies indicate that students who engage in international experiences through Erasmus+ are more likely to secure employment within six months after graduation compared to those who did not participate. Employers highly value the skills gained through international experiences, including adaptability, language proficiency, and intercultural competence.
Rejoining the Erasmus+ Programme offers a range of advantages for the UK, including economic growth, enhanced educational opportunities, increased research collaborations, strengthened cultural ties, and improved prospects for its students and workforce. The statistics and previous positive outcomes demonstrate the tangible benefits that the UK could regain by rejoining this influential European education and exchange initiative.