Alyn Smith MEP and Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, visited a youth organisation in Ruchill on Friday (2 May) to discuss a new EU initiative to help students from poorer backgrounds to take part in international exchanges.
North United Communities works with young people in Ruchill, Maryhill, Summerston, Milton and Cadder, which include some of the poorest communities in Scotland. Among the services they provide is helping to support youngsters from school into work, training and further education.
Bob and Alyn met Jill Mackay, who runs NUC, to discuss the opportunities presented by the Erasmus+ scheme, the new programme being developed to promote exchanges for young people from more deprived communities. The programme is committing €1 billion to helping over 30,000 people from the UK expand their horizons over the next seven years. This will be a 50% increase on the number of people who benefited from the previous Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes.
Following the meeting, Alyn said:
“I was lucky enough to be an Erasmus student in Heidelberg in Germany way back in 1992 and it’s given me a lot of benefits.
“Erasmus+ means that another five million young people will receive grants to study, train, volunteer or take part in youth or sports activities in another EU country, which will give them the opportunity to expand their horizons.
"The Erasmus programme was founded on an old principle in Scottish legal education, which meant students had to spend a year studying overseas. It creates pan-European links and opens up opportunities as well as giving participants a greater sense of the world they live in.
"I hope Erasmus+ will encourage more Scots to go abroad to learn new skills and learn about other culture, improve their job prospects and broaden their horizons. Of all the EU programmes, Erasmus adds the most value.”
Bob Doris MSP added:
"It was good to meet with North United Communities and Alyn Smith MEP to hear about the new student exchange programme being set up by the EU.
“With previous Erasmus programmes, one problem has been that the grants offered often don’t fully cover cost of living. Even when it does, sometimes the funds come through after costs have already had to be paid. Particularly in more expensive countries, this has indeed tended to restrict access to those from better-off backgrounds.
“Erasmus+ improves on its predecessor programmes in several ways. Grants will target specific needs, tailored to living costs in the destination country, in order to offer better support to less well-off students. It will also offer more specific support for students with disabilities.
“I look forward to working with Alyn, Jill and all at NUC to ensure that youngsters from places like Wyndford, Ruchill and Milton will be equally able to benefit from the opportunity to study abroad.”