20 January 2021
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Do you think the Turing scheme is an adequate replacement of the Erasmus programme? Should we mourn the loss of the latter or does its replacement offer benefits the former lacked? What does all this mean for students in Cambridge(shire)?
The axing of UK participation in Erasmus is an indication of the blinkered, niggardly, isolationist outlook of our current rulers and also a worrying indication of the direction they will take us in the future. Here’s why.
As well as providing exchange opportunities for university students the Erasmus programme offers vocational training and volunteer opportunities to non-university students. It is about so much more than middle-class kids spending a year abroad.
The government has said that it has withdrawn from Erasmus because it costs too much. In fact Universities UK has commissioned research that shows that because of the spending of foreign students who come to the UK, the country actually makes a profit of £243 million from participating in the programme.
But that short sightedness is not the worst of it. The fundamental characteristic of Erasmus is that it is about exchange. Students come from EU countries to the UK as well as the other way around. The Turing scheme concentrates just on sending UK students abroad.
Exchange makes us all richer. UK students who study abroad tend to do better than those who do not have that broadening experience. Thousands of European students who live and study here benefit the UK when they move on. Instead our government just looks at what we can get. We will all be poorer for their mean-spiritedness and lack of imagination.
It is a fundamental part of the Green vision that working together makes us all better off. If we co-operate we can do more than we can separately. We can make a whole that is bigger than its parts. We will need to remember that if we are to tackle the big challenges that are looming, but it seems to be something that our current government is pathologically deaf to.
Our response was written Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy was the MP Candidate for Cambridge in the 2019 General Election. He has lived in Cambridge for more than 25 years and is the Dean and Chaplain at one of the Colleges in Cambridge University. He campaigns for the University to cut its links with fossil fuel companies.