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Next steps for the Turing Scheme

24 March 2022

On 24 March 2022, Dorota Maciejowska represented the Coimbra Group at the Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference entitled “Next steps for the Turing Scheme – implementation so far, growing international partnerships  and the role of FE, and widening social and economic benefits”.

The Coimbra Group is strongly committed to maintaining and strengthening academic cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK). Dorota Maciejowska, Chair of the Academic Exchange and Mobility Working Group (AEM WG), intervened at the conference as representative of the CG Task Group on post-Brexit UK-EU exchange.

She outlined some of the key findings gathered by the CG Task Group about the effects of the UK’s withdrawal from Erasmus+ in the short- and long-term. These findings result from a first series of consultations held with a wide range of stakeholders, among which the European Commission, the Turing Scheme, the British Council, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), the University Council of Modern Languages, Universities UK International, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Durham University, the UK Department for Education, as well as CG AEM WG members. 

Dorota Maciejowska emphasized some crucial implications for EU universities related to the loss of Erasmus+ and a non-reciprocal Turing Scheme, namely:

  • The Turing Scheme’s lack of inward mobility has resulted in perception that the benefits are one-sided, and that there are no incentives for EU students or institutions to engage. UK universities need to become proactive in encouraging EU partners to choose UK study destinations for their outbound students.
  • EU higher education institutions will be facing a decrease in outgoing mobilities to the UK in comparison with past years, and they will not be able to prioritise the UK as a destination due to the criterion of geographical distribution.
  • EU-UK partners will have to identify creative solutions for developing new types of engagement beyond standard reciprocal exchanges – e.g. summer schools, short exchange and study programmes.
  • While the Turing Scheme does not currently provide identical replacement to Erasmus, with appropriate lobbying it could evolve into a scheme that would allow for bilateral exchange.

The full picture of short- and long- term implications and issues identified by the CG Task Group is available in the following policy paper: https://www.coimbra-group.eu/wp-content/uploads/Takeaways-from-the-CG-task-group-on-post-Brexit-UK-EU-exchange.pdf

The Westminster Higher Education Forum policy conference gathered a number of representatives playing a crucial role in Turing Scheme implementation, among whom British Council member Steve Woodfield. Mr Woodfield depicted progress in the Turing Scheme roll-out so far and lessons learnt. According to the data presented, 139 higher education projects were awarded funding (£67M), involving 28,997 individual HE mobilities to over 150 destinations in the 2021-2022 academic year. The scheme was over-subscribed, although demand (esp. for mobilities to the EU) was distorted by the availability of remaining Erasmus+ funding until 2022-2023. Almost half (48%) of funding was dedicated to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to those with special education needs or disabilities. There has been additional advice and flexibility to support mobilities impacted by Covid-19 restrictions – reduced mobility length (from 4 to 2 weeks), start dates, flexibility in destinations and blended mobilities.

The ‘Top 10’ destination countries for 2021/2022 within the Turing scheme higher education component were as follows:

CountryNumber of participants
1. United States3,911
2. China1,857
3. Canada1,766
4. Australia1,405
5. France1,212
6. Spain1,169
7. Japan1,171
8. Hong Kong SAR1,012
9. India1,002
10. Germany933

Year 2 of the Turing Scheme will be administered by the private firm Capita. Funding has been confirmed for the next 3 years, including £110 million for the 2022-2023 academic year. There are still some key questions to be addressed in future Turing Scheme rounds, such as:

  • Will Turing embrace staff mobility?
  • Will there be any geographical prioritization for mobilities, and future reciprocal agreements that can support mutuality?

CG members are looking forward to finding ways to sustain existing levels of mobilities between EU and UK universities. The Task Group will continue to monitor further developments of the Turing Scheme as well as its compatibility with other mobility schemes.