Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be given the opportunity to study and work abroad as part of the government’s new Turing Scheme.
Replacing the Europe-wide Erasmus+ programme, the new £110m scheme will fund 40,000 placements, with 48% of places to go to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
According to the Department for Education, 120 universities have applied for a share of the funding, alongside schools and further education colleges, which will take students to over 150 international destinations.
As well as giving young people the opportunity to benefit from working and studying abroad, the scheme aims to improve social mobility across the UK by targeting areas which have seen lower uptake of the Erasmus+ programme.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson commented: “The chance to work and learn in a country far from home is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – which broadens minds, sharpens skills and improves outcomes.
“But until now it has been an opportunity disproportionately enjoyed by those from the most privileged backgrounds.”
To ensure that students from low-income families will be able to take advantage of the scheme, ministers confirmed that funding for travel and expenses such as passports and visas, as well as a grant for living costs, will be available to tackle the barriers to studying overseas.
Additional support has also been guaranteed for preparatory visits to ensure that placements adhere to the needs of participants with disabilities and special educational needs.
Named after pioneering UK war hero and father of modern computing Alan Turing, the new scheme is expected to benefit the UK economy in the long term, with well-travelled students shown “to do better academically and in employment outcomes”, explained Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International.
The 40,000 total is said to comprise 28,000 placements for university students in 2021-22, more than the 18,300 placements under the Erasmus scheme in the 2018-19 academic year.