Former prime minister Gordon Brown is leading calls to maintain the UK’s status as a member of Erasmus, the international programme that provides young people and adult learners with access to international educational courses and training placements.
Economic recovery from the Covid crisis demands a “laser focus” on maintaining and supporting pathways to business, scientific and academic co-operation, he believes.
Mr Brown highlighted the importance of the Erasmus exchange programme, saying it plays a critical role in higher education and research across the country, as well as ensuring all UK students have access to a global education.
More than half the British students who study abroad do so under the Erasmus programme, and it is not currently being factored in to EU negotiations as a priority association, said Mr Brown.
The north of England’s four metro mayors and Wales’s first minster are also supporting the case for maintaining the UK’s Erasmus status.
Mr Brown said polling showed UK-wide concern about how best to tackle the coming economic crisis.
“Our poll shows a majority of pro-Brexit and anti- Brexit voters, and a majority of Conservative voters, want the job-creating Erasmus programme to help young people gain new skills.
“The poll suggests that the public have transcended the leave-remain divide and that the issue is not whether your region is for or against Europe, but whether you are for good jobs and for a policy for full employment
“Enabling world-class education will be key to maintaining and developing the jobs and skills we need which make our global links via Erasmus more vital than ever to our regional economies.
“We are asking MPs to join us in impressing on the Prime Minister the jobs case to keep with Erasmus.”
Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “The Erasmus programme has provided countless opportunities for our young people to develop new skills, employment prospects and real-world experience that they never would have got otherwise.
“Leaving the scheme would leave our regions much poorer, in terms of the opportunities it offers our young people, our universities and our businesses.”