Student organisations have started a campaign to set up a new EU student exchange programme, and their petition can be submitted to the European Parliament in a matter of weeks. According to students standing behind the Save EU Students campaign, tens of thousands of people have lost the possibility to travel and study in the United Kingdom with the help of an Erasmus scholarship because, due to Brexit, doubling tuition fees can only be paid by the richest.
“The perfect solution would be an EU monetary fund covering the costs of a complete course for the talented kids with a more humble background who would like to study in the UK; nevertheless, saving the possibility of a study abroad scholarship would already be a huge step. Our goal is to create a new agreement on an exchange programme between the EU and the UK that would balance out the gap left behind the Erasmus+ programme,” told eduline.hu Dénes András Nagy, the advisor to the Save EU Students campaign.
The initiative was launched by the Federation of Polish Student Societies in the UK, an organisation working for the interest of Polish students studying in the country. They were joined by the Hungarian Youth Association that gathers smaller communities of Hungarian students attending a British university.
They are all of the opinion that due to the consequences of Brexit, in the future, the question of whether someone will be able to attend a university in the UK will solely be based on the economic situation of the student.
The Minister of State for Universities of the United Kingdom announced last June that starting from the 2021/2022 academic year, first-year students arriving from an EU country will not be able to take out a British student loan; furthermore, they will not be eligible for a tuition fee discount either. This latter fact means that instead of the old so-called “home fee” of 9,000-9,250 pounds a year, students will have to pay a much higher amount (10-26 thousand pounds a year) in the case of a BSc or BA. Moreover, as opposed to a previous decision, concluding someone’s studies in a Scottish university will not be free either. December bought other sad news with the decision of the British government to abandon the Erasmus programme after 33 years, after not being able to reach an agreement with the EU concerning the future.
Student organisations’ aim is to provide the possibility of spending one or two semesters in the UK to at least that many youngsters as the Erasmus programme made possible. According to the plans,
the new EU exchange programme would cover the healthcare insurance, visa, travel and accommodation costs, as well as the tuition fee of students travelling to participate in a study abroad programme.
The Save EU Students will send their petition to the European Parliament where, according to their hopes, the majority will accept it and send it all the way to the European Committee and the European Council. Dénes András Nagy says that so far, the campaign has received widespread support independent from political parties. To give an example, Lóránt Vincze, EP member for the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, also stood behind the initiative.
Meanwhile, other organisations are also knocking on the door of British higher education. György Greskovits, the educational manager of the Milestone Institute that prepares dozens of Hungarian students for their entrance exams in British universities, also says that since September, they have been conducting talks with the British Council and Universities UK to discuss the negative effects of these decisions and how to mitigate them.
The new programme would be crucial for Hungarian students as the UK has been the third-most-popular destination for students wanting to continue their studies abroad. As of right now, almost 2,500 Hungarian students are attending either a BSc or an MA programme in a British institution. Furthermore, this number does not even include the students who enrolled in a Hungarian university but are spending one or two semesters in the UK thanks to the Erasmus+ programme.