Erasmus and Horizon 2020 after Brexit

Erasmus Project

It is a European Commission’s Programme that deals with training, education, sport and youth. Erasmus+ was formed to replace Lifelong Learning Programme that operated between 2007 and 2014. This project aimed to offer more opportunities for mobility of staff and learners and improve cooperation across education, youth and training sectors. Unlike the previous programme, the Erasmum+ is more accessible and used more straightforward rules and structures when performing its administrative duties. The new Erasmus+ programme combines all EU’s previous schemes, including the Youth in Action, Lifelong Programme, and the 5 international co-operation projects (the Tempus, Edulink, Erasmus Mundus, Alfa and the programme for co-operation with industrialised countries).

The programme’s regulation was approved in December 2013 and was specially designed for participation by young people, teachers, students, lecturers and apprentices. Two-thirds of the budget is assigned to learning opportunities for students within the EU member states and beyond. The remaining one-third of the budget supports partnerships between youth organisations, local and regional authorities, educational institutions and businesses.

History of the Erasmus Project

It kicked off as a student exchange programme in 1987 but was incorporated into the Socrates programme in 1994. The programme was named after one of its founders, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus along with Thomas Moore became the focal point of European intellectual life during the Renaissance period. He mobilised internal reform in the Catholic Church and the recovery of the Catholic tradition instead of the adoption of modern devotional practices. As a result, he formed ERASMUS, a backronym of European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.

The European Commission did not adopt the Erasmus programme until 1987, following backlash from EU member states. They believed that the then exchange programme was sufficient, and that there was no need of adopting a new system. The first year of operation (1987) saw it attract 3,244 students. Subsequent years reported a higher number of student participation in the Erasmus exchange programme- 150,000 students in 2006 of which 20,877 comprised the teacher population.

Horizon 2020

It is the eight framework programme that funds innovation, research and technological development within EU member states. Its name was later modified to Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which is often abbreviated as FP. The objective of the programme was to complete the European Research Area through the coordination of national research policies. Horizon 2020 is a policy tool that aids in the implementation of high-level policy initiatives initiated by the EU.

It is the eight framework programme that funds innovation, research and technological development within EU member states. Its name was later modified to Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which is often abbreviated as FP. The objective of the programme was to complete the European Research Area through the coordination of national research policies. Horizon 2020 is a policy tool that aids in the implementation of high-level policy initiatives initiated by the EU.

Horizon 2020 comprises three pillars- Excellent Science, which focuses on basic science projects. 24 billion euro was allocated to this pillar. The second is the Industrial Leadership pillar, which has a budget of 14 billion euro and the societal challenges pillar. Its structure mimics that used by the previous framework programme that operated from 2007-2013.

Approval for Funding of the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020

The EU approved the funding of both projects in the year 2013. This time, EU’s funding scheme allocated 70 billion Euro to the Horizon project, an increase from the previous 55 billion that was received during the 7th Framework agreement. Erasmus+, on the other hand, received 14.7 billion Euro to fund the 2014 to 2020 project.

The EU approved the funding agreements during a vote in the European Parliament of Strasbourg. Initially, the parliament had requested an increase of 2020 Horizon budget to 100 billion Euro, but the member states downsized the budget to 70 billion Euro. The commissioner for culture, education and youth emphasised that the increase in Erasmus+ budget was a demonstration of EU’s commitment to education and training. As a result, over four million people will receive support to train, study, work and volunteer abroad. 650,000 students will comprise vocational training student, two million will be higher education students, and 500,000 will participate in the ongoing youth exchange programme.

Will the UK Participate in the Programmes after Brexit?

The Universities of the UK have stated that they will continue to participate in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus research programmes even after UK ceases to be EU’s member state. Brexit priorities statement further mentioned that the UK could continue participating in their current capacities, i.e., as a programme country in Erasmus and an associate country in Horizon 2020. The UK further emphasised its willingness to remain committed to the programmes and the broader EU higher education, research and innovation policy by publishing position papers in March 2018.

The Universities of the UK have stated that they will continue to participate in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus research programmes even after UK ceases to be EU’s member state. Brexit priorities statement further mentioned that the UK could continue participating in their current capacities, i.e., as a programme country in Erasmus and an associate country in Horizon 2020. The UK further emphasised its willingness to remain committed to the programmes and the broader EU higher education, research and innovation policy by publishing position papers in March 2018.

There was a second paper that addressed the appointment of the successor of Erasmus+ program. The UK emphasised on the importance of the need for the Commission to be flexible, dynamic, and accessible. This second paper also recommended two innovations the Commission could embark on, and these are short-term mobility programs for the underrepresented and disadvantaged learners in financial and non-financial forms. The design of the successor programme should reshape the Erasmus programme to ensure it becomes accessible to the broader community of learners by offering more flexible and diverse courses to all students. The intents of both papers demonstrate the benefits that accrue to UK’s continued participation in the EU programmes.