Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has tabled a motion with cross-party support calling on the Government “to seek full association to the 2021-27 Erasmus programme”.

Continuing her campaign to protect Erasmus, which saw her push an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill two weeks ago, Layla has reached out to colleagues in the Lib Dems as well as the SNP, DUP and Greens to co-sponsor her motion.

In the motion, Moran notes that the EU is expanding the Erasmus programme from 2021, tripling its budget and placing greater emphasis on widening access to the scheme for pupils from lower income backgrounds. 

The motion recognises that Erasmus+ has made studying abroad “attractive and affordable by providing financial assistance to students who take part”, and over 17,000 students at UK universities studied or worked abroad through the Erasmus+ programme in 2017-18.

The EU intends to expand Erasmus+ from 2021, with MEPs voting in March 2019 both to triple its budget for 2021-27 compared to 2014-20, and to place greater emphasis on widening access to study abroad opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) is sponsored jointly by Moran and two other Liberal Democrat MPs, as well as Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, Douglas Chapman of the SNP and Jim Shannon of the DUP.

Layla also highlighted the House of Lords European Union Committee’s 28th Report of Session 2017-19 that concluded that a replacement UK-led student mobility scheme, something the Government is considering, would find it impossible to replicate aspects of Erasmus which are key to facilitating international exchanges.

Moran commented that “the Erasmus scheme has been absolutely wonderful for students, young people and staff who work in the education sector.

“It’s enriched generations of people not just economically, but culturally too. It’s allowed them to go abroad, meet new people, learn new languages and put down roots abroad. It has also done wonders for social mobility, something that any UK-created alternative scheme would find it very difficult to replicate due to budgetary constraints.

“Brexit puts all that at threat, and we must do everything we can to protect Erasmus once we leave the European Union.

“That is why I have tabled this motion to acknowledge the good that Erasmus does, keeping the pressure on the Government to do the right thing and commit to seeking full association of Erasmus post-Brexit.”