Did we see this coming?

Not really. At the beginning of 2020, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in the House of Commons that there was “no threat” to Erasmus+, stating that UK students would continue to benefit from exchanges with their “European friends and partners” post-Brexit.

He thinks participation in the programme is too expensive, in particular because more students come to the UK than British study in the EU. During the negotiations, the UK and the EU could not reach agreement on the cost of Erasmus membership.

Are the student numbers really so lopsided?

In 2018, about 17 thousand British students and trainees left to train or study in Europe, as can be read in the corresponding Erasmus+ annual report. Conversely, almost 32 thousand Europeans travelled to the UK, around 2,300 of whom were students from the Netherlands.

Alan Turing

Will British youngsters still be able to study abroad?

They will if it’s up to Johnson. He wants to quickly launch a new British exchange programme that will give students the “opportunity not just to go to European universities, but to go to the best universities in the world”.

Although what that programme will look like hasn’t yet been set in stone, the British government is spending some 100 million pounds to send 35 thousand British students to go on placements and exchanges overseas, writes The Independent. The programme is named after the British computer pioneer Alan Turing, who cracked German secret codes during the Second World War.

What does the deal mean for European students wishing to go on exchange in the UK?

The new Brexit deal leaves many practical questions unanswered. For instance, it is still unclear what a term across the Channel will cost. From September 2021, Europeans wanting to complete a full bachelor’s or master’s degree there will have to pay thousands of pounds more than they do now. By way of illustration: a bachelor’s degree at the top-ranking University of Oxford costs between 27 and 38 thousand pounds a year for overseas students. That is three or four times as much as it used to be.

European research budget

Will price-conscious students soon be heading for the Netherlands?

That is certainly a possibility. Last summer, a survey among 2,500 European youngsters revealed that almost half of them would consider studying here as an alternative to enrolling on a hugely expensive post-Brexit study programme in the UK.

Finally: what does the future hold for research?

The Brexit negotiators have reached agreement on the UK’s participation in the European research and innovation programme Horizon Europe. According to Johnson, his deal means “certainty” for British scientists, who can continue to compete for European subsidies and grants.

However, this is not the final word on the matter. For example, it is not yet known exactly how much the UK will contribute to the European research budget. It is also unclear whether their new membership will grant British scientists the same rights as scientists from other non-EU ‘associate countries’, such as Switzerland, Norway and Israel.