A new international study programme for students at Welsh universities will start next year, ministers have said.

It will be developed by Cardiff University in collaboration with education and youth sector partners ahead of its launch in 2022.

The UK government chose not to continue with the EU’s Erasmus scheme as part of the Brexit deal, and developed its own Turing programme.

The Welsh government said its scheme would “fill the gaps Turing leaves”.

While £110m has been allocated for the first year of the Turing scheme, the Welsh government is allocating £65m up until 2026.

Students and staff across universities, further education, adult education, youth work settings and schools will be able to “benefit from international exchanges in a similar way to the opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, not just in Europe but also further afield,” the government said.

The new scheme – called the New International Learning Exchange – aims to enable 15,000 participants from Wales to go overseas over the first four years, with 10,000 participants coming to study or work in Wales.

The programme also aims, where necessary, to fund costs so that international students, teachers and young people can travel to work and study in Wales.

While Welsh institutions will be able to participate in the Turing Scheme in 2021-22, they will also continue to benefit from Erasmus+ exchanges deferred from last year due to the pandemic.

The new programme will then fill the gaps Turing leaves, including the commitment to long-term funding, the retention of the principle of two-way exchanges and the inclusion of youth work.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had recently said the only way Wales could continue with the Erasmus scheme was if the “whole” of the UK rejoined.

‘Cultural awareness’

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “Our students and staff are vital ambassadors for us overseas, promoting the message that Wales is an inviting destination for students and partners across the world.

“Their education and cultural awareness are improved in many ways as a result of spending time abroad – just as our education providers are enriched by students and staff visiting Wales to study and teach.”

She said the “main beneficiaries of the new scheme will be young people in upper secondary, for whom the challenges of learning from home over the last year have been particularly profound”.

“We owe it to this next generation of students and learners to have the same opportunities previous years had,” said Ms Williams.

Prof Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “We are sure that the scheme will be of huge benefit both for the learners and for raising the global profile of Wales as a connected, open and inviting country.”

Becky Ricketts, National Union of Students Wales President, said: “Students in Wales deserve the opportunity that many people have had before them, and the chance to learn, grow and develop themselves on a global scale is one that many feared that they had lost.”

The Department for Education said the Turing Scheme aimed to give more students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the chance to study abroad.

A spokeswoman said: “Backed by £110m for the first year alone, up to 35,000 students from across the UK will be able to work or study abroad from September.

“The Turing scheme will fund UK participants to go abroad, and we anticipate other countries will do the same.

“The benefits of the exchanges will be kept under review, and the learnings used to build on future schemes.”

Source: BBC