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The last Erasmus Brits In Copenhagen? British students reflect on Brexit

Brexit — Uncertainty surrounds the Erasmus programme as stalling Brexit talks continue and many prospective British applicants are increasingly nervous of the outcome. Here, four British students currently studying in Copenhagen share their hopes and fears for the future of Erasmus.

As Britain’s political class attempt to find a solution to the current Brexit deadlock, the future of the Erasmus programme hangs in the balance for British students looking to apply in the future. At the time of writing, unless a Brexit deal is reached, Erasmus funding is not guaranteed for applicants for the 2019-20 academic year and EU residency rights that British students would have otherwise benefitted from will end.

The way forward still looks hazy, and a lot will depend on whether British Prime Minister Theresa May can get her deal through. One thing is certain: The current cohort of Brits studying abroad in Copenhagen are looking increasingly lucky, for they will be the last group guaranteed all the benefits of the Erasmus programme.

We spoke to some of the British students about why they came on the programme to Copenhagen, their opinions on Brexit itself and their hopes and fears for Erasmus.

Louise McCourt

Political Science, University of Glasgow

»I’ve completely fallen in love with this city. It’s really changed my outlook on the possibility of living elsewhere in years to come. It’s definitely a place I could see myself spending a longer period of time because the standard of living is so good. They do things right here.«

»Being the last to be guaranteed Erasmus is a big shame. In Scotland, we tend to stay at Scottish universities because they offer free tuition. Erasmus offers the chance for Scottish students to go to different places and it really has broadened my horizons and made me realise that actually, I can go and study in a far-off place. It’s a bit of a shame that a lot of people aren’t going to experience studying abroad as we did.«

»For those looking to apply in the future, without Erasmus funding, I think I would have struggled – your quality of living, especially in such an expensive city as Copenhagen, would probably decline. Therefore, I would say to only do it if you have the means to do it; which is honestly an awful, awful thing that I’m actually having to say because everyone should be given this opportunity. But the way it’s going, people with only their pockets lined are going to be able to do it.«

Joanna Traynor

Law, University of Glasgow

»I was very much Remain in the 2016 referendum. I feel like younger people’s choices were completely underrepresented, which is pretty unfair when many over-60s endorsed Brexit and now it’s gone tits-up. There are also so many different things that are going to be affected. The whole thing is just disappointing.«

»Erasmus-wise, it’s actually pretty sad more than anything. Future applicants aren’t going to get the funding. I mean, I probably would have done it anyway, but because this area of Europe is especially expensive, the higher living costs would definitely put some people off and it would be quite challenging.«

»The whole thing has been so much better than I initially thought it may be in terms of development and meeting people. It’s made me so much more confident. It’s also such an enhancement to your degree also. It was nice to come here for a totally different experience.«

»Even after all this mess is over, if one can apply for Erasmus, then one should definitely apply. If not, then, to be honest, my heart goes out to you! Money may be a restraint but it is definitely worth it, it’s been a great experience.«

Chris Fairweather

History, Goldsmiths, University of London

»Studying abroad was always going to be one of those things I would regret if I didn’t do it and now that I have done it, I’d probably have regretted not doing it even more. I’m only here for a semester and I wanted to live in Europe for a while at least. Sadly, because of Brexit, I didn’t know if I, or anyone else, could do it again.«

»On Brexit, I could really go on and on about it. Europe itself was at its weakest point – the so-called migrant crisis, the Greek economic crisis and a massive recession beforehand. The vote itself was only 2% in favour of Leave and we still don’t know what kind of Leave we voted for so I think it’s a massive mess.«

»On the Erasmus front, it’s sad because it is a massive opportunity for students in general – you get to go abroad, you get to meet so many other people from even further away than Europe itself… The whole scheme is built to give people opportunities; to let them travel, to let them learn, explore and discover themselves. The next university year won’t get to do it at all as easily. They won’t be guaranteed any of the language resources or any of the EU funding.«

Jemah Pearce

History, Goldsmiths, University of London

»It’s a bit of a community here. You meet all different exchange students, everyone is in the same boat, you’re making a whole new friendship group. Copenhagen is a bit smaller than London, it just feels like your own little city and you can get as much done as possible, I just love it.«

»Brexit is really tough. I voted to Remain as I’m a student and I’m young. But as a student, you’re in this bubble where Brexit doesn’t really affect you yet. You don’t have a full-time job, you have no mortgage. Even so, changes to the Erasmus scheme really hits home about Brexit – it’s something that actually is going to affect you as a student.«

»No one really knows what’s going to happen with Erasmus in the event of a no-deal outcome. Of course, I feel sorry for future applicants in that it would be nice for them to have the opportunity. At the same time, there are so many universities in Europe that speak English and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, take the plunge and take a semester or a year out and study somewhere else. So yes, it’s not the end of the world but Erasmus just makes it easier for you to jump and do it.«

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