Holyrood should retain student exchange scheme - your views

"The loss of Erasmus is an act of cultural vandalism, but the Scottish government can follow Wales”

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am
Ministers have held talks with the European Commission about keeping Erasmus open to Scotland’s students (Getty Images)

Holyrood should retain student scheme

I noted with interest that the Welsh government is to establish its own version of the Erasmus education exchange programme and would urge the Scottish government to do likewise.

With Brexit, the UK government has withdrawn from the EU’s highly-successful Erasmus scheme, which offered student exchanges as well as school links and work experience.

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The UK government’s replacement, the Turing Scheme, includes a fraction of the benefits provided to students under Erasmus. Free tuition and travel expenses have been scrapped, except for the most disadvantaged students and the cost-of-living allowance has been slashed by a fifth.

In addition, the Turing scheme does not extend to staff exchanges and funding will also not be reciprocal, meaning that international partner institutions will not be supported for any exchanges coming to the UK.

By contrast, the Welsh government said its scheme would support, as far as possible, the entire range of activities that had been available to learners in Wales under Erasmus. It will fill in many of the gaps, including, crucially, the commitment to long-term funding, the retention of the principle of two-way exchanges and the inclusion of youth work.

The loss of Erasmus is an act of cultural vandalism, but the Scottish government has the opportunity to follow Wales and deliver a scheme that delivers to some extent the benefits of the Erasmus programme.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

Arms spending could support Scottish NHS

The demands placed on Scotland’s health service by the coronavirus pandemic have intensified pleas for an increase in funding for Scottish NHS.

However, although responsibility for the NHS in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, its funding is not and has to be found from the Scottish Parliament’s block grant provided by Westminster.

If huge sums of Scottish taxpayers’ money were not being used to pay Scotland’s share of the cost of renewing and maintaining Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet, there would be funds available to properly support the Scottish NHS.

However, this will only be possible when Scotland is independent once more, able to raise and control all its own finances and to decide here in Scotland the priorities of Scots for spending the money.

Susan Swain, Innerwick, Dunbar.

SNP got it wrong over NHS Covid bonus

The SNP got it wrong when they proposed a Christmas bonus of £500 to NHS workers.

Where is the money coming from, the finances of the NHS are already overstretched?

Surely in today’s climate they are lucky to have a job. There are plenty of young people out there looking for a job.

I say, be thankful you’ve got a job, and we should give doctors less money than they are getting - £60 an hour in some hospitals. This is leading to back door privatisation by the medical staff themselves.

James Edgar Fraser, Cockburn Street, Edinburgh.

Scotland can benefit from naval expansion

The defence review proposes cuts to the Army, but increases in funding for other services like the Navy as threats change.

For the Navy, there is to be an increase in surface ships and as they are likely to built on the Clyde, this is good news for Scotland. A boost from being in the Union, is it not!

William Ballantine, Dean Road, Bo'ness.