Erasmus schemes at Kingston University and other UK institutions may be over soon following the government’s refusal to fully back the programme after Brexit.
The government voted last Wednesday against a clause that would ensure Britain continues to seek full membership in the Erasmus programme, an EU student exchange programme, once the UK leaves the EU.
Simon Choat, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Kingston University said: “This vote poses a great risk to the programme.
“Ending Erasmus will especially affect students who could not otherwise afford to study abroad.”
Kingston University students can currently study and/or work abroad in over 30 countries with the help of Erasmus funding and administrative support.
Shaf Mansour studied law at Kingston and spent a year studying in Umeå, Sweden.
He said: “The friends and contacts I made will remain for life.
“Many of us meet regularly and as we progress in our careers, we are able to learn from and advise each other.
“The paragraph on my CV that refers to my Erasmus experience always gets mentioned in an interview.”
Atsuko Ichijo, study abroad coordinator at Kingston University, said: “It is a great loss to students if the UK government pulls out of the Erasmus+ scheme.”
More than half of UK university students who study abroad currently do so through Erasmus schemes.
Kingston University is backing a campaign by UK charity Universities UK to urge the government to fully commit to continuing the funding of study abroad opportunities for UK students.
A spokesperson for the university said: “The Erasmus+ exchange programme provides an invaluable opportunity for Kingston University students to enhance their learning in another country.
“Exchange students from other European countries coming to study at Kingston as part of the scheme contribute to the rich and diverse learning environment on campus.
“The current Erasmus+ programme runs until 2021. Kingston University students applying for a grant for the next academic year will continue to receive funding.”
Green Party councillor for Kingston Upon Thames Sharron Sumner said: “We all benefit for greater harmony and understanding of our neighbours and their cultures.
“It is a genuine shame that the amendment wasn’t passed and I sincerely hope Erasmus is brought back at trade negotiation stage.”
The clause, which would have altered the Withdrawal Agreement, which outlines the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU, was proposed by Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Layla Moran.
“For students, young people and those in training and staff who work in the education sector, the Erasmus scheme has been absolutely incredible,” she said.
The government recently announced plans to create an alternative exchange programme if Erasmus schemes end after Brexit.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We have to prepare for every eventuality and it is sensible to consider all options.
“As such, I have asked my officials to provide a truly ambitious scheme if necessary.”