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Guy Verhofstadt mocks UK over Erasmus replacement | Politics | News

Guy Verhofstadt mocks UK over Erasmus replacement | Politics | News

Guy Verhofstadt has stirred up social media once again with fresh calls for Britain to rejoin the European Union.

The former Belgian Prime Minister, now an MEP, is a persistent critic of the UK’s decision to quit the bloc and addresses the subject frequently on X, previously Twitter.

On the latest occasion, he highlighted a report suggesting British university students have been forced to abandon plans to study or work abroad due to a Government scheme’s “problematic” funding timeline.

The analysis, published by IFF Research, claimed disadvantaged young people may have been deterred from participating in the Turing Scheme – the UK Government’s post-Brexit replacement for the Erasmus+ exchange programme – amid uncertainty around funding.

Mr Verhofstadt declared: “Yet another post-Brexit ‘alternative’ turns out suboptimal…

“There is one alternative… especially for young Britons: Undo Brexit and #Rejoin!”

His remarks echoed those of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who recently suggested Britain could return to the fold.

Speaking in November, she said: “I keep telling my children: ‘You have to fix it. We goofed it up, you have to fix it’.”

Mr Verhofstadt triggered a familiar response on X, with Valerie Johnson saying: ”Rejoin. You’re having a laugh. Absolutely not.”

James Cranworth added: “The funniest thing about Brexit is how it has consumed your life.”

Taking issue with Mr Verhofstadt’s specific point Chris Leigh said: “We had no end of problems with Erasmus applications.

“Even with teething issues, Turing is ten times better than Erasmus and allows students to access nations that actually have decent universities, unlike the EU that has barely any universities in the global top 50.”

Yesterday’s report pointed out that participants taking a year abroad often needed to leave in July or August, before they knew whether financial support would be available.

Many described worrying a lot before funding (and the amount they would receive) was confirmed, and then struggling with day-to-day living costs while waiting for funding to come through.

However, Robert Halfon, minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, said: “The Turing Scheme is a real game-changer for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, empowering them with transformative opportunities abroad, a chance to experience other cultures and learn vital skills for life and work.

“It showcases our positive ambition post-Brexit, fostering a global outlook for more students who deserve every chance to thrive.

“Young people benefit from inspirational placements around the world, not just Europe, building the confidence and skills they need for their future, whilst bolstering the Government’s drive for a Global Britain.”

The report said: “There was a general view that some delivery issues raised had a greater impact on participants from a disadvantaged background and may have created barriers to many participating.

“Providers said that the timing of when application outcomes were confirmed (ie after many participants would have had to already commit to their placement abroad) meant some who could not afford the upfront cost or the risk of funding not being available down the line dropped out.”

The Department for Education (DfE)-commissioned report said many participants described receiving the funds while already on placement, or even after they had returned.

It explained: “This was particularly challenging for participants who needed upfront costs to secure housing or for initial travel, which could be expensive.”

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