Looking back at the Turing Scheme

“Its a broader scheme which covers the entire world, it will just take time to build the links with universities around the world and it will mean giving the scheme long term funding”.

Torrin Wilkins

During Brexit the UK government decided to leave the Erasmus+ scheme. Instead, the UK would start a new scheme called the Turing Scheme. Before the full details of the scheme were released I was fairly optimistic about the scheme. There has been the usual divide, on the whole remain supporters hated it and leave supporters loved the idea.

I like that the Turing Scheme is wider reaching than the Erasmus scheme in terms of being a global project rather than mainly a European one. However, the largest issue is both building a new scheme from scratch which needs to link with universities around the world and ensuring is has the funding it needs to operate in the long term.

To address some of these issues the Welsh government created the International Learning Exchange Program.

Below is a summary of the main differences between ERASMUS+, the Turing scheme and the International Learning Exchange Program:

Tuition fees:

ERASMUS+: No tuition fees.

Turing scheme: “The Turing scheme will not pay tuition fees for UK students studying abroad or for students from other countries studying in the UK. Instead, it expects the fees to be waived by the universities that take part“.

International Learning Exchange Program (Wales): includes “…the retention of the principle of two-way exchanges…”.

Countries available:

ERASMUS+: “EU and some non-EU countries“.

Turing scheme: “The Turing scheme will provide placements across the world“.

Funding:

ERASMUS+: “…a university student going to France for six months…the Erasmus scheme paid £317 (€370) per month in 2020-21“.

Turing scheme: “…a university student going to France for six months would get £335 (€390) per month under the Turing scheme…“.

Travel costs:

ERASMUS+: Covered costs up to “…£1,315…“.

Turing scheme: “…only students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will receive help from the UK government…“.

Groups included:

ERASMUS+: The ERASMUS scheme supports “Students…Staff (teaching)…Staff (training)…Trainees…Young people…Youth workers“.

Turing scheme: “Erasmus offers placements for teaching and college staff and youth workers as well, but the Turing scheme will not“.

International Learning Exchange Program (Wales): “…students, staff and learners across universities, Further Education and Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education, youth work settings and schools to undertake a period of structured learning or work experience overseas…

Additional needs applicants:

Turing scheme: Unlike Erasmus+, however, this funding will also cover preparatory visits to carry out risk assessments and ensure participants will be able to equally access and take part in all elements of a placement“.

Disadvantaged applicants:

ERASMUS+: “Erasmus pays an additional £103 (€120) per month – a total of £420 (€490) per month for a poorer student going to France for six months in the current academic year”.

Turing scheme: “The Turing scheme would pay £445 (€519) per month to the same student, but also contribute to travel costs (the amount will depend on how far the student is travelling). It will also provide poorer applicants with additional expenses, such as the costs of visas, passports, and health insurance“.

Improving the Turing Scheme:

  • Include the option for government to pay tuition fees where they can’t be waivered.
  • Include youth workers and all other groups covered by the ERASMUS+ scheme in the Turing Scheme.
  • Maintain the current support for both disadvantaged students and those with additional needs. Perhaps look at extending them including covering the full cost of travel for disadvantaged applicants.
  • Guaranteeing funding for the next five years.

Overall, I think we should keep the door open to Erasmus+ but at the moment the focus should be on improving the Turing Scheme. Its a broader scheme which covers the entire world, it will just take time to build the links with universities around the world and it will mean giving the scheme long term funding. Whilst I know some people view it as a symbol of attachment to the EU, I think it just comes down to whether we can do something better than Erasmus+.

Written by Torrin Wilkins, the Director and Founder of Centre. He also has a degree in Political Studies from Aberystwyth University and has been interviewed on both the BBC and LBC.

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