ERASMUS MEP - Scotland Must Boost Participation

16 February 2007
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith will today (Friday 16th) warn the Scottish Executive to support modern languages and help Universities improve Scotland's participation in the ERASMUS scheme as he marks the 20th anniversary of the overseas study programme.

Addressing potential ERASMUS students at Heriot-Watt University Mr Smith will call on universities and students to "use it or lose it" and urge students and schools to put more focus on language education.

Mr Smith's comments come as the imbalance between students coming toScotland on their ERASMUS year and students from Scotland going to the rest of Europe continues to grow.

Mr Smith praised Heriot-Watt as one of few Scottish Universities sending a significant number of students overseas.

Speaking at Heriot-Watt Mr Smith said:

"Heriot-Watt is a shining example of what the ERASMUS scheme and strong links with Europe can achieve. This university is a leader in languageand business education and its participation in ERASMUS and the more advanced ERASMUS MUNDUS programme is an excellent example.

"Scotland, however, welcomes over 1500 students from five other European nations while we are only sending 733 to those nations in return. This is a trend that runs throughout the scheme in Scotland.

"ERASMUS does not cost anything in extra fees to students but Universities face the cost of meeting the tuition of additional overseas students.

"I want Scotland and Scottish universities to continue to welcome asmany overseas students as possible, but I want more Scots students to take the opportunity to go overseas themselves and broaden their horizons.

"There is the danger that the opportunity will disappear as a result ofthe tight financial regime under which our universities operate if Scottish students don't start taking part in Erasmus.

"Unfortunately for many Scottish students studying abroad means giving up the part time job that keeps them financially afloat or they do not have the language skills they need.

"An SNP government in May will help to change this, putting a renewed focus on modern languages from primary school and bringing in student grants to replace the outdated and discredited student loans system.

"Scotland needs to take her place on the world stage again. ERASMUS was founded on the principals of Scottish legal education, with students spending part of their course overseas and founded under my predecessor Winnie Ewing MEP. Languages and the ability to work across borders and national boundaries will be the key to future economic success. Scotland can not afford to lag behind.

"As a former ERASMUS student myself, I urge students across Scotland tograsp this opportunity and the current Executive to ensure that our Universities do not suffer financially for welcoming European students to our shores."




  • In 2004 /5 Scottish Universities has 1021 participants heading to European Universities. Scottish Universities accepted 2169
  • ERASMUS was launched in 1987 to improve and increase student mobility across the EU.
  • ERASMUS now covers 33 countries (EU member states, EEA countries and accession states)
  • SNP MEP Winnie Ewing chaired the European Parliament Education and Culture Committee which established the ERASMUS programme
  • Alyn Smith MEP spent his ERASMUS year at Heidelberg in Germany