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Northern Ireland students to be given access to Erasmus programme despite Brexit

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

STUDENTs from Northern Ireland are to be given access to the EU’s Erasmus study abroad programme despite the UK leaving the scheme because of Brexit.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has announced that students from Northern Ireland will be able to avail of the programme by temporarily registering with Irish higher education institutions which will allow them to travel freely to other EU member states for study and work experience.

The UK’s departure from the EU following the end of the transition period on Friday will see the end of its participation in Erasmus which has offered student exchanges, school links, work experience and apprenticeships across Europe since the late 1980s.

Some 649 students and staff from the North participated in Erasmus, which stands for European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, in 2019/2020.

Mr Harris said: “Hundreds of people from Northern Ireland avail of this scheme. This proposal seeks to protect the access of students resident in Northern Ireland to the benefits of the Erasmus mobility programme.

“This proposal is also a practical expression of solidarity and aims to provide continued access to EU opportunities to young people in Northern Ireland in what could be an uncertain social and economic environment.

“It also gives our higher education institutions a framework to work with their counterparts in the North on which to explore deeper cooperation in education, research and innovation.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that his government would introduce establish its own study abroad scheme, the Turning Exchange, with “the best universities in the world”. It will be named after Alan Turing, the British mathematician and code breaker, whose pioneering work helped the Allies win World War II.

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