When we left the EU, the UK also left the Erasmus+ Programme, robbing future generations of young people in the UK of the chance to experience education, training and sport opportunities across Europe.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which has published the data for the first full post-Brexit year, the number of EU students enrolling in British universities has more than halved since Brexit – with sharp declines in scholars from Italy, Germany and France, figures reveal.
Brexit is seen as the primary deterrent, with home fees and student finance no longer available to EU students who do not already live in the UK with settled or pre-settled status.
With this in mind, on Thursday 9th February 2023, the Young European Movement (YEM) UK welcomed participants from across the UK to London for its 2023 Erasmus+ Academy, a political bootcamp designed to connect like-minded young pro-Europeans, provide them with a toolkit of skills for how to run an effective political campaign on re-joining the Erasmus+ programme.
This two-day programme of events kick-started with a Networking Reception in Europe House on the Future of UK-EU Relations in Education, where over sixty attendees heard unique insight from several senior commentators on how the relationship can be strengthened.
The German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Miguel Berger, laid down a marker at the offset by sharing his disappointment over the UK’s decision to terminate its Erasmus+ membership, adding that it was his government’s desire for this decision to be reversed.
Following on from Ambassador Berger’s assessment, Labour MP for Preston, Sir Mark Hendrick, took to the stage and gave a devasting analysis of the Government’s track record on Brexit and the damage that it has done to the economy. He shared Labour’s vision of a closer relationship with Europe on key issues, including agreements on security and defence, Horizon+ membership as well as leaving the door open on Erasmus+.
We then heard from another former MEP and Liberal Democrat Peer, Baroness Sarah Ludford, who brought down the house with a witty and frank critique of how this government has dealt with the fallout from leaving the EU. In looking to shape a future where London and Brussels could engage in a meaningful and advantageous manner, she cited the dangers associated with the Retained EU Law Bill and spoke of her work as the Europe Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.
For those of you unable to attend the reception you can watch a selection of the speeches here.
On Friday, YEM members then took to Bush House at King’s College London for an action-packed day of political training and insight, beginning with a presentation and workshop from European Movement’s campaign and communications team on their Retained EU Law Bill campaign. This workshop provided YEM members with insider knowledge on what constructing an effective campaign looks like.
Following on from this, YEM members received an eye-opening presentation from globally renowned pollsters, Opinium, who shared with us public attitudes around Brexit: past, present and future. After lunch, we then heard from an aspiring young journalist, Eleanor Longman-Rood, from The New European on the current landscape of the UK media and how to get your message across.
We finished our afternoon’s training and capacity building with two in-house workshops, the first of which concentrated on public affairs and stakeholder mapping, and the second of which concentrated on our work campaigning to rejoin the Erasmus+ Programme.
The entire YEM team is thrilled with the success of the Erasmus+ Academy and is confident that it places us on a strong footing to advance our campaign and strengthen our network of young pro-Europeans through the United Kingdom.
Rejoining Erasmus+ could be a key step towards rebuilding bridges with Europe and this event proved that, together, we can restore the opportunities once afforded to young people in the UK pre-Brexit.
Young European Movement Coordinator