Erasmus: Why the Brexit deal fails young people
On 23 June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union by 52–48% margin. But due to the arrangements put in place by the transition period to maintain the status quo, students from Britain and Europe alike have been able to study at university abroad. However, that stops on Friday when the transition period ends and the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement will henceforth govern Anglo-European relations.
That means that as of 1 January 2021, students in the UK cannot study in European universities unless other arrangements outside of the Erasmus programme are in place.
Consequently, millions of students in Britain will miss out on a chance to travel and study in European cities, make friendships with people across borders, languages and lands. It is an opportunity of a lifetime that was possible, but due to a binary vote that they had no say in, that is no longer an option.
In September 2017, I took part in a one-term exchange from the university of Lincoln to Palacky University in the city of Olomouc in the Czech Republic.
So for three months, I met lots of people from all over Europe, socialising and studying and travelling with people from France, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Ireland all in the name of social mobility. We spent a very intense and extremely enjoyable time in a foreign country and travelling to neighbouring countries upon travelling to Budapest and Vienna.
Also, it provided me with a greater appreciation of the world we live in as coming from Britain, there are certain norms, values, traditions and expectations. But travelling enables you to see for yourself how things are in the rest of the world and the value of a global inter-connected world.
On Erasmus, language is everywhere and you recognise the value of language to communicate with others. Luckily, English is the language of Europe at the moment. Erasmus forces you to at least acknowledge the value of European languages which is important in order to appreciate your place as a citizen and the relatively small significance Britain has in the world.
Similarly, culture is different all over Europe and Erasmus allows you to really feel and appreciate the value of your culture. For instance, in the Czech Republic, ice hockey and winter sports are as vital to their wellbeing and as much a part of their heritage as football is here in the UK.
It is always a great part of travelling to other places to sample local food such as goulash and dumplings. The Czechs also drink a copious amount of beer and you can buy a portion of chips and mayonnaise for about 10 p as everything is dirt cheap.
It is these experiences of having fun with my friends, studying modules on witchcraft and catching the doddery tram late at night back to my dormitory that will always stay with me.
Once our Erasmus was over, we welcomed, helped and supported Erasmus students coming from all over Europe to Lincoln the very next term. They too had the chance to enjoy themselves with people from all over Europe in the name of social mobility. The fact that Europeans will no longer be able to study in Britain is a sad fact that must also not be lost.
Erasmus is fun, exciting, and confidence-building experience. It allows you to have exposure of living and travelling in another country, as well as communicating and interacting across different languages, lands, culture and values which helps to instil a greater appreciation for the world.
While I accept Brexit, I think the loss of Erasmus is one of the most damaging acts to be inflicted on university students today as they have lost a choice, a chance and an opportunity to study and travel across 27 other countries without being consulted on it.