Criticism over Brexit vote that puts the future of EU education scheme at risk

A Sheffield politician has slammed a vote against a Brexit clause that would have committed the UK to keeping the Erasmus+ programme that provides apprenticeship opportunities across the European Union.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 10:17 am

MPs voted 344 to 254 on the clause, which some now fear could have a significant impact on young, especially disadvantaged, people in the region.

The Erasmus scheme is a European Union (EU) scheme that helps students study in other countries.

Sheffield has one of the largest student populations in the country and, although it does not completely end the UK’s participation in the scheme, some are concerned about its future.

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MEP Shaffaq Mohammed

MEP Shaffaq Mohammed - who works on culture and education in the European Parliament representing Yorkshire and the Humber - said: “The vote was bitterly disappointing. But we're not going to give up on this.

"Tory MPs have tried to portray themselves as a voice for the underdog during the election and in the national press but stealing the opportunity for thousands of young people to expand their horizons and learn throughout the EU is only mean spirited."

Mr Mohammed worked on developing the extension to the scheme.

He added: "Why is it if you go to university you can study in another country but if you come from the Manor and choose a more vocational route you can't? My worry is if your parents have deep pockets they can afford to send you to Europe but if they're not you miss out.

Oceane Leconte was a student who came to the UK from France as part of the Erasmus scheme and said it would be ‘really sad’ for people in the UK and across the continent if the government did not protect it.

She said: “It was an extremely amazing experience. I’d never left France before and it leaves you on your own and so you gain skills you wouldn’t be able to in a normal setting. For example, I knew English before I came but it’s not the same as learning it in the native country. It also helps with funding a year abroad and with getting a better job when you graduate.”

The government said it is ‘committed’ to maintaining membership of the programme.