Campaigners are urging Scottish ministers to follow the example set by Wales and establish their own version of the EU's Erasmus+ education programme.

Members of The European Movement in Scotland (TEMiS) say the Turing Scheme, Britain's post-Brexit replacement, offers a fraction of the benefits previously available.

They warn travel expenses have been scrapped, except for the most disadvantaged individuals, and point to a 20 per cent reduction in the cost-of-living allowance.

TEMiS has also stressed that Turing does not extend to apprentices and trainees, excludes staff exchanges and fails to provide reciprocal funding for students hoping to learn in the UK.

READ MORE: Push for Scotland to re-join EU scheme

The intervention comes after Welsh leaders said their country would establish its own programme to "fill the gaps Turing leaves".

They added that participants would "benefit from international exchanges in a similar way to the opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, not just in Europe but also further afield".

The Herald revealed earlier this week that lecturers, academics and researchers north of the Border were pushing for Scotland to re-join Erasmus independently.

This week's University and College Union (UCU) Congress will see members debate a motion which calls for the organisation to "continue to lobby the Scottish Government to join the Erasmus scheme on its own and offer whatever support is necessary to achieve this end". If passed, the motion would become official UCU policy.

HeraldScotland: Mark Lazarowicz, second from right, speaks during a Rally for Europe event. He appeared alongside, from left, Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell and, right, Catherine Stihler. Mark Lazarowicz, second from right, speaks during a Rally for Europe event. He appeared alongside, from left, Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell and, right, Catherine Stihler.

UK ministers have defended Turing, which has been backed with £110 million for its first year.

They also insist their scheme will help disadvantaged individuals and provide funding for 35,000 international exchanges.

But Mark Lazarowicz, TEMiS Chair, said: “The loss of Erasmus is an act of cultural vandalism and we would urge the Scottish Government to follow Wales and fill the immense gaps presented by the Turing scheme.

“Erasmus brings different countries and nationalities together and generates such massive cultural and educational benefits, its loss is a huge blow. 

"It allowed many thousands of young people, no matter their background, to continue to improve their futures, their access to global opportunities, and their development as citizens of a connected world. 

“Over 2000 Scottish students, staff and learners used the scheme each year. Indeed, Scotland attracts proportionally more Erasmus participants from across Europe – and sends more in the other direction – than any other country in the UK."

READ MORE: Fears students will be worse off

He added: “A unilateral replacement, such as the proposed Turing scheme, will never be able to replicate the wealth of opportunities for all young people, or raise the same reciprocal benefits of the Erasmus Programme.”

The Scottish Government previously lobbied the EU for continued membership of Erasmus+.

However, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, last month told MEPs that, as a “constituent nation” of the UK, Scotland could not rejoin.

UCU leaders said options for preserving a relationship were being explored. These include the possibility of Erasmus countries providing outward mobility to Scotland, with Turing money used to maintain reciprocity.

Students at institutions in Northern Ireland can take part in Erasmus thanks to an arrangement with the Irish Government.

HeraldScotland: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen.European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen.

Responding to criticisms of the Turing Scheme, a spokeswoman for Westminster's Department for Education said previously that it was "backed by £110 million, and will provide funding for 35,000 global exchanges, a similar number to that offered under Erasmus+".

She added: “We know that under Erasmus+ the most privileged students were 1.7x more likely to participate in study abroad, and our Turing Scheme aims to change this, ensuring that as many students as possible have access to life-changing opportunities to study and work abroad.

"Disadvantaged students are also currently set to benefit from more funding per month than under Erasmus+.”