University of Portsmouth and its students say they worry that European study scheme Erasmus will be scrapped after a no-deal Brexit

A FRENCH former University of Portsmouth student who came to the city as part of the Erasmus study exchange programme liked it so much she settled here.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 5:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 7:00 pm
Marion Forgeot

Marion Forgeot said she benefited from the Erasmus programme, an EU-funded scheme which allows students to spend time studying in other countries. Its future in the UK is under threat because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Marion said: ‘It would be terrible if no longer being part of the Erasmus programme resulted in UK and EU students being unable to afford to study abroad.

‘It was such brilliant experience for me and allowed me to develop a second language, learn new skills and experience meeting new people. I received around £150 per week  – without it I simply wouldn’t have been able to afford to study in Portsmouth,’ she explained.

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Vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth Prof Graham Galbraith. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

For Marion, her affiliation to the city has extended beyond her studies.

‘I loved the city so much that I decided to stay and I now work at the university as part of their global admissions team,’ she added.

The government has agreed to underwrite Erasmus student funding until the end of 2020 but there are no guarantees or clarity about what will happen after that. 

There are about 1,000 EU students enrolled in Portsmouth, and vice-chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith, has previously said he is concerned about the implications the changes could have for UK students studying abroad and EU students coming to the city.

‘Brexit might make exchange programmes more difficult for students and universities,’ he said in the autumn in an interview with The News. ‘Many of our courses include the opportunity to spend a year studying abroad. Potential increased costs for students would make this far more difficult to implement. For many students, living and studying abroad is a transformative experience which many employers really value and want.

‘If this funding is not replaced it will especially hit students from more socially deprived backgrounds who particularly benefit from the experience.’

It is the wider economic, social and cultural benefits which are also of concern to Professor Galbraith.

‘If Brexit does anything that sends out the message that we do not welcome foreign students then that could cause a major problem for the UK economy and our diplomatic reach,’ he said. ‘Universities represent a multicultural society which brings important diversity to student experience.’ 

A statement from the university said: ‘Although Brexit has created some uncertainty regarding its implications for Erasmus, there is no immediate change to our participation. We are closely monitoring the situation so that our students and staff continue to benefit from the exchange opportunities that Erasmus provides.

‘We are working actively with national bodies such as Universities UK to ensure the best long-term outcome for our staff, students and European partnerships in the case of a no-deal Brexit.’