A joint letter has been sent by the Scottish and Welsh Governments to the UK Education Secretary raising concerns over the future of the European student exchange programme after Brexit.

The letter to Gavin Williamson is signed by Scotland's Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead and the Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

READ MORE: Scotland would be biggest loser from abolition of Erasmus scheme after Brexit​

It calls on the UK Government to continue to participate in the scheme in the event of leaving the EU without a deal in place.

Mr Lochhead and Ms Williams state in their letter that leaving with no deal - and without an alternative Third Country agreement or other arrangement being reached by the UK - universities, colleges, and schools across the UK would be ineligible to submit applications to participate in the final year of the current Erasmus+ programme in 2020.

READ MORE: 'We need our alumni to be our global ambassadors'

Between 2014 and 2018, it is estimated more than 15,000 students and staff from Scotland took part in the EU-led scheme, which allows funded temporary study overseas as part of their Scottish courses.


Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

Mr Lochhead said: "Thousands of Scottish students benefit from Erasmus+ yearly, proportionally more than from any other country in the UK.

"The Scottish and Welsh Governments are clear that we must remain a full participant in Erasmus+.

"I am also alarmed to hear the UK Department for Education could be considering an Erasmus+ replacement programme for England only - with potentially no consequential funding for devolved administrations to put in place their own arrangements.

READ MORE: Ministers urged to safeguard EU exchange scheme

"That's why we have written to the UK Government calling for urgent action and assurances that Scottish students won't miss out."


UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Mr Lochhead added: "It is the Scottish Government's preference to remain in the EU but in the event of a damaging no-deal Brexit, students could now see the door to this fantastic cultural and educational exchange slammed shut.

"It is unacceptable that with less than 12 weeks left until the UK Government plans to take the United Kingdom out of the EU without an agreement in place there is still no plan for alternative arrangements."