SNP accused of delaying Erasmus replacement to stoke Brexit grievance

The Scottish Government have been accused of deliberately delaying the introduction of Scotland’s replacement for the Erasmus exchange scheme to stoke grievances around Brexit.

Scotland left the popular Erasmus exchange scheme when the UK left the European Union, with the SNP committing to developing a “Scottish Education Exchange Programme” as part of their programme for government.

However, Scottish Labour accused the SNP of failing to act quickly enough after Wales launched its own Erasmus replacement, Taith, earlier this week.

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The Scottish Government has been accused of not working fast enough to deliver a replacement for the Erasmus exchange scheme

England has also got an Erasmus replacement in the form of the Turing scheme, while the Scottish Government has spent months failing to negotiate a way back into the Erasmus scheme.

The SNP has regularly criticised the UK Government for leaving Erasmus, claiming it is behind the drop in the number of EU students studying in Scotland and that an independent Scotland would rejoin the scheme.

Labour’s culture spokesperson Sarah Boyack said there was “no reason” why a similar scheme to Taith hadn’t been launched in Scotland.

Taith, backed by £65 million of Welsh Government funding that aims to send 15,000 participants from Wales abroad and receive 10,000 from overseas, was launched on Tuesday.

Ms Boyack said: “The Labour government in Wales is delivering for young people. I want the Scottish Government to do the same here.

“Young people in Scotland should be able to access the same opportunities to learn and explore the world as young people in England and Wales. The SNP need to stop making excuses, roll their sleeves up and come up with a plan to give Scottish young people those invaluable life experiences.

“I see no reason why the SNP can’t achieve what the Labour government have managed in Wales. Questions must be asked. Are the SNP delaying introducing this scheme in order to justify yet another grievance?”

Higher education minister Jamie Hepburn defended his Government’s record.

He said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to Erasmus+, and are exploring how to re-secure Scotland’s access to it. In the interim, and in recognition of the importance of educational mobility, we are developing a bespoke Scottish Education Exchange Programme to support participants from across Scotland’s education system.

“This is a programme for government commitment and will help maintain Scotland’s place as an outward-looking, internationally-connected place for work and study.”

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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