Sadiq Khan pledges Erasmus-style scheme for London students

Image above: Sadiq Khan campaigning in LB Hounslow with Ruth Cadbury on Saturday (30 March)

London’s Mayor promises new foreign student exchange scheme if elected

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to introduce a new student exchange scheme for young Londoners, aiming to fill the void left by the UK’s departure from the EU’s Erasmus programme. Mr. Khan, the Labour incumbent, says that the loss of Erasmus was a “casualty” of Brexit

The UK government established the Turing Scheme as an Erasmus alternative, but Mayor Khan criticised it as ineffective, citing insufficient funding and saying the scheme primarily benefitted  wealthier students.

In response, he plans to include his proposed scheme in his upcoming 2024 mayoral election manifesto, with discussions already underway between his office and representatives from major cities worldwide.

The scheme, as outlined in Khan’s manifesto, would facilitate international study and work experience opportunities for London students, leveraging existing visa regulations permitting up to six months for studying abroad.

Leading universities are likely to play a role in administering the scheme, which aims to include students from various London institutions.

Mr. Khan’s initiative seeks to provide grants and support for students to study and gain work experience not only in EU countries but also in major global cities elsewhere in the world.

While not advocating for rejoining the EU, Mr. Khan’s campaign contrasts sharply with the pro-Brexit stance of his Tory opponent, Susan Hall.

Britain’s withdrawal from the Erasmus programme has been criticised by academics and business people alike for the failure to safeguard the financial stability of UK universities and to provide greater opportunities for young people.

The Government’s Turing Scheme, intended as a replacement for Erasmus, has faced challenges, including a complex application process and inadequate funding. Participation in the scheme’s first year fell short of Government targets, partly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Khan said:

“It’s been devastating to me that the current generation of students haven’t had the same opportunities to live, work and study abroad that young people had only a few years ago. If re-elected as mayor, I will work with major cities across the world to set up a new scheme which will help students at London institutions to travel and study abroad once again.

“I’m delighted that these conversations are already underway.”