So, the general election is fast approaching, and we know that this is a busy time of year for you with deadlines, revision, essays and exams. So as part of our plan to make this general election easier for you we’ve asked all the candidates for Bristol West and Bristol North West what they think on several key issues for students. We’ll be releasing them over the course of the week so have a read to help inform your choice!
This second installment is about: Brexit and the Free Movement of Students
The next Parliament will be defined by the government’s approach to Brexit, and there are uncertainties about the ability of students, both EU and UK nationals, to move freely around Europe after Brexit. If EU students are subject to the same fees and VISA restrictions as international students currently are, numbers are likely to drop dramatically. Similarly, an end to free movement will mean that UK students will be less able to study abroad, either for their whole degree or as part of the Erasmus+ scheme. In order to stay part of the Erasmus+ scheme, the UK would have to accept the free movement of people, but failing this the UK could set up its own programme, similar to the Swiss European Mobility Programme (SEMP). There is also uncertainty about the inclusion of international students in immigration figures, on which there is a target to bring numbers down to the ‘tens of thousands’.
We asked your candidates:
What will you do to protect the UK’s involvement in Erasmus + and secure the free movement of UK and EU students across the EU?
“I am currently a Member of the European Parliament and have been very involved in discussions about Brexit. I believe Brexit is likely to prove a disaster for the UK, but it could take many different forms. I am resisting the Tory "hard Brexit" to ensure that Brexit means continued participation in European research collaboration and schemes such as Erasmus+, and continued free movement for students in higher education. I will be taking a close interest in the Brexit negotiations and the associated legislation which will be going through Parliament, and will be advocating a ratification referendum to enable the public to vote on the deal which the Government negotiates, with the option of deciding that remaining in the EU is after all preferable to an unsatisfactory deal. I have issued a number of Green Guarantees around Brexit which have a focus on young people. Yesterday I spoke at the launch of our Brexit policy where I specifically identified the need to protect young people's right to move, travel and study freely across Europe if/when we leave the EU."
What will you do to protect the UK’s involvement in Erasmus+ and secure the free movement of UK and EU students across the EU? a Labour government would negotiate to keep the UK within Erasmus and also within Horizon 2020 for research funding, we would also keep students out of any migration targets so that EU students could continue to study in the UK and UK students in the EU.
We have contacted Annabel Tall (Conservative) and Stephen William (Liberal Democrats) and will update this article once they respond.
“And we will make sure that Brexit does not have a disastrous impact on young people’s education by creating a UK equivalent of the EU Higher Education Funding which looks set to be scrapped.”
“The Erasmus programme has helped over 3 million students study and work abroad in Europe.After the leave vote, this student exchange is at risk.
No doubt many of you will have already shown your support by registering with Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder who has been running a campaign to protect the UK’s participation in Erasmus and Erasmus + for nearly a year now.Liberal Democrats will take your signatures to European leaders to help save the Erasmus programme in any Brexit re-negotiations and guarantee work abroad placements for students.
When I was studying for my Masters degree at Bristol, we had a two people on Erasmus from Italian universities, so I have personal experience of the value of the exchange of ideas through this programme.I will do all I can to protect further involvement in Erasmus.Having recently visited the joint Bristol and UWE Robotics Lab at Frenchay, and meeting people from 24 nations who work there on various trans European projects, I learned at first hand the fears of students about future free movement of people.As a Liberal Democrat, I am fighting to retain free movement of UK and EU students across the EU, and I will continue to do so as will my Party at Westminster.”
“In relation Students coming to the UK post-Brexit, I have written to the Minister on this arguing that we should continue to welcome the best and brightest to your universities.”
We have contacted Darren Jones (Labour) and will update this article when he responds.