MORE than 140 MEPs have written to the Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European, calling on her to find a way to keep Scotland in the Erasmus programe. 

The show of support from the EU parliamentarians comes after German MEP Terry Reintke asked her colleagues to back her campaign.

Ms Reintke, who spent a year in Edinburgh as a student on the Erasmus scheme, said she had "never had so much support" for an initiative in so short a time. 

It took just two days to collect signatures from across the EU, and represents a fifth of all MPS, from a wide poitical spectrum. 

Erasmus, which the UK joined in 1987, allows students to study and work across Europe and was used by more than 2,000 Scottish students and staff annually.


Ms Reintke's letter

The UK left the scheme as a consequence of Brexit, although quitting was never part of the official Leave campaign. 

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the UK Government’s decision as “cultural vandalism”.

READ MORE: Richard Lochhead - Quitting EU's Erasmus student exchange scheme "huge blow" to Scotland

Ms Reintke said on social media: "I have never had so much support for an initiative in such a short period of time.

"There are no guarantees that it will be possible, but we at least wanted to explore everything - together with the Commission and the respective governments - how we can find a good solution for this situation."

Boris Johnson insisted at the start of last year that the UK would not abandon the Erasmus scheme.

Then, the Prime Minister knocked back fears, raised by the SNP’s Douglas Chapman, that the exchange programme was going to be terminated by the UK Government, telling the backbencher he was “talking through the back of his neck”.

READ MORE: Agenda - Scotland needs its own Erasmus alternative

Mr Johnson insisted: “There is no threat to the Erasmus scheme and we will continue to participate in it.

"UK students will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of exchanges with our European friends and partners, just as they will be able to continue to come to this country.”

The move comes a week after Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead held productive talks with European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel to explore the idea.

Mr Lochhead said: “Losing Erasmus is huge blow for the thousands of Scottish students, community groups and adult learners - from all demographic backgrounds - who can no longer live, study or work in Europe.

“It also closes the door for people to come to Scotland on Erasmus to experience our country and culture and it is heartening to see that loss of opportunity recognised by the 145 MEPs from across Europe who want Scotland’s place in Erasmus to continue. I am grateful to Terry Reintke and other MEPs for their efforts and thank them for extending the hand of friendship and solidarity to Scotland’s young people. I sincerely hope we can succeed.

“I have already had a virtual meeting with Commissioner Gabriel. We agreed that withdrawing from Erasmus is highly regrettable and we will continue to explore with the EU how to maximise Scotland’s continued engagement with the programme. I have also spoken with my Welsh Government counterpart and agreed to keep in close contact.”