The governments of Flanders and Scotland are working on a new student scheme to allow students to resume where the Erasmus programme left off at Brexit, De Tijd reports.
When the UK left the European Union at the end of last year, it put an end to the highly successful Erasmus student exchange programme for British students. That had allowed students from any EU member state to study for a time in any other EU member state.
The system was praised for allowing students to take advantage of the opportunity not only to study but also to live abroad for a time.
Brexit not only closed off UK institutions to EU students; it closed off the whole continent to British students. That was a blow particularly because young people voted heavily against Brexit; because many now feeling the effects had not been allowed to vote in the 2016 referendum.
And Scotland in particular voted in favour of remaining in the EU, with the nationalist government pledging to return if independence is even achieved.
In the meantime, education is a responsibility of the Scottish government, as it is of the Flemish community, and the two sides are seeking a solution.
The cooperation accord currently being worked on has three goals, including reducing the bureaucracy involved in student exchange, as well as the cost. In principle, the tuition fees involved in an exchange should be no higher than in the student’s own country.
Tuition fees are low in Belgium: for Scottish students studying at home, there are no tuition fees.
The other points being discussed are a simplified method of exchanging academic and research staff, and participation in joint research programmes.
“Brexit has threatened to make Great Britain inaccessible for many Flemish students and academics,” said Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA). “Both the Flemish and the Scots do not want that. We are determined to make Brexit the start of closer cooperation between our nations.”