I reported last week on the UK government launch of the Turing programme which is designed to support mobility for students after the UK has pulled out of the EU Erasmus plus venture. Criticisms were, I said that whilst the programme supported external mobilities with many partners in the English speaking world, it failed in terms of reciprocity. For many working in education the major success of the Erasmus programme had been building close relationships between institutions, as a result of the reciprocity. Indeed both Scotland and Wales are reported to have asked the Commission whether it was possible to buy in to the Erasmus Plus programme, but this was rejected as they are devolved governments but not sovereign states.
Now Wales has decided to go it alone. They have launched a new international learning exchange programme enabling learners and staff, both from Wales and those who come to study or work in Wales, to continue to benefit from international exchanges in a similar way to the opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, not just in Europe but also further afield.
The new scheme – which will run from 2022 to 2026 - will be supported by an investment of £65m from the Welsh Government.
The Programme will provide funding to enable students, staff and learners across universities, Further Education and Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education, youth work settings and schools to undertake a period of structured learning or work experience overseas, as well as enabling strategic partnerships.
A fundamental principle of the programme will be reciprocity. Where necessary, the programme will fund costs related to the inward mobility of learners, teachers and young people from partner organisations abroad. This will enable existing partnerships which have been built up under Erasmus + to continue and help to create new ones, raising Wales’ international profile as well as offering opportunities to those who benefit directly.
The scheme aims to enable 15,000 participants from Wales to go on overseas mobility exchanges over the first four years, with 10,000 participants coming to study or work in Wales.