Boris Johnson has insisted the British Government's Turing education programme will benefit students from all income groups - despite claims it is significantly less generous than the EU's Erasmus+ scheme.

The Prime Minister said Turing would be "truly global" with "every country in the world eligible to partner with UK universities, schools and colleges".

His remarks come as the programme opens officially to institutions which may wish to apply for student funding.

Ministers say their scheme, backed by £110 million, will finance 35,000 global exchanges from September, including university study, school exchanges and industry work placements.

It aims to improve social mobility by targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas which, according to the UK Government, did not previously have many benefiting under Erasmus+.

READ MORE: Erasmus replacement under fire after guide published

Plans for the programme were announced after ministers said participation in its EU counterpart would cease post-Brexit.

It is named in honour of Alan Turing, the British scientist who is best known for leading the code-breaking successes at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.  

Describing Turing as "levelling up in action", Mr Johnson said it would seek to "help students of all income groups from across the country experience fantastic education opportunities in any country they choose”.

HeraldScotland: Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the scheme will help the disadvantaged.Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the scheme will help the disadvantaged.

Westminster Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “This is a landmark step in delivering on our promise to level up a truly global Britain, strengthening our ties across the world and providing students with the skills they need to thrive.

“The programme’s focus on social mobility and value for money will open up more opportunities for international education and travel to all of our students, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds who were less likely to benefit from the previous EU scheme."

But a war of words has broken out over the levels of financial support offered.

READ MORE: EU chief closes door on separate Scottish participation in Erasmus

UK officials point to figures showing that a maximum monthly grant of 573 euros (£490) is available under their scheme for help with the cost of living.

This is more than the 540 euro ceiling which they say is provided through Erasmus+ to higher education students from fully signed up "programme" countries.

However, analysis released earlier this week stresses that Erasmus+ has a higher 700 euro limit for programme country students going to "partner" nations whose citizens have partial, conditional access to its activities. Monthly grants exceeding 700 euros are also available to those from "outermost" programme countries such as Cyprus, Iceland and Malta.

In addition, the European scheme offers a travel grant worth up to 1,500 euros which benefits students going to and coming from partner states, as well as individuals from the outermost nations, regions and territories.

Travel support under Turing, on the other hand, will be for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, although UK officials say Erasmus+ does not offer assistance within programme countries.

Finally, the EU's scheme effectively provides free tuition since programme-wide fee waivers are in place. Information from the UK Government suggests a similar offer under Turing will depend on waiver deals being struck with host universities.  

Carol Monaghan, the SNP's shadow education spokesperson, said Turing would leave Scottish students worse off.

"The replacement scheme offers no tuition fees support - which can jump up astronomically," she added.

"The Tory government has form in burdening students and young people with eye-watering debt, its Turing Scheme will simply add to that for Scottish students.

"Our young people need their horizons broadened, not narrowed by this Tory government."

HeraldScotland: Carol Monaghan is the SNP's shadow education spokesperson.Carol Monaghan is the SNP's shadow education spokesperson.

She continued: "The damaging impact of Brexit on young people isn't just the view of the SNP, Boris Johnson's own Scottish colleague Andrew Bowie stated bluntly that young people will not benefit from Brexit.

"Rather than ripping away rights from our young people, Boris Johnson should engage with the EU and seek to re-join the Erasmus scheme."