On Wednesday 6 April webinar took place on the topic of the Turing scheme and mobilities in education.
The webinar was organized by Universities UK International in collaboration with the UK Mission to the European Union and aimed to provide a platform for EU colleagues to discuss the Turing scheme, its challenges and opportunities.
The discussion was moderated by Thomas Jorgensen of the European University Association (EUA) and the speakers included Lindsey Appleby CMG (UK ambassador to the EU), Charley Robinson (Universities UK International), Oscar Tapp-Scotting (Department for Education in the UK), Uta Staiger (University College London) a Gerhard Dannemann (Humboldt University Berlin).
The Turing Scheme, the UK's (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) external learning mobility program, was introduced, also in view of its second call for proposals, which is currently open (the UK government has now committed to a total of 3 calls). In the first call, 139 UK universities joined the scheme, allocating £ 67 million to fund student mobility.
The program provides funding for studies and internships around the world and aims to expand cooperation between UK universities and the world, with Europe remaining one of the strategic destinations (25% of the program's funding in the first call was allocated for mobilities to EU countries and 3 out of 10 most frequently planned destinations fall into the EU). The submitted applications are assessed in accordance with the political priorities, which are global Britain, the development of key competences, the so-called "leveling up" (expanding mobility opportunities for disadvantaged participants and institutions not yet involved) and the added value for UK taxpayers.
In Wales, the program is complemented by the Taith program, which extends to school, adult and non-formal education and can complement the Turing scheme.
United Kingdom and the Erasmus+ programme?
With regard to the Erasmus + program, although the involvement of universities and other UK institutions is now limited, they may continue to be involved, for example, in Erasmus Mundus or Jean Monnet projects as a third country not associated to the programme. It is also possible to apply for a financial contribution for mobilities to the UK as a third country not associated to the program under the mobility projects. UK universities can then apply for funding to send their students to the EU under the Turing scheme in order to maintain reciprocity.
During the discussion it was highlighted that we are currently in a transition period, as, in addition to the options mentioned above, Erasmus + projects approved under the previous programming period 2014-2020, in which the UK institutions are involved without current restrictions, are still ongoing (the finalization of these projects is expected in 2023).
Good practice examples
Representatives of University College London and Humboldt University Berlin shared their experiences with the Turing Scheme. Some challenges were mentioned, for example, related to piloting new forms of mobility, more complications with regards to reciprocity, increased administrative burden for incoming EU students or issuing visas, especially for work placements. However, despite these obstacles, it was emphasized that international cooperation with the EU remains very important, that UK and EU universities want to continue, and that there is willingness on both sides to continue working together and to address these challenges at both practical and political levels.
As the funding for mobility under the Turing scheme began in September 2021, at this point it is important to wait for feedback from the first year, on the basis of which it will be possible to assess the impact of the program, its benefits and other specificities. Among the unanswered questions also remains the possibility of continuing reduction in the number of mobilities between the UK and the EU after the finalization of ongoing Erasmus+ 2014-2020 projects.