Thanks to the Erasmus programme, my small world grew big | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

A year studying in Europe was the making of me, but this opportunity may now be lost for future generations

The end of the decade prompted, for me, a brief reactivation of Facebook in order to remind myself what I’d been up to 10 years ago. Getting drunk with a load of Europeans, it turned out. The pictures show us on a succession of sweaty nights out, grinning after too many Long Island iced teas (chosen because you got the maximum bang for your buck), our sense of affectionate comradeship clear from the arms we have thrown around one another, our faces smushed together. I had been studying in Italy, living in a hall of residence with a mix of Italians and foreign exchange students, as part of the Erasmus programme – an EU student foreign exchange scheme founded in 1987, now known as Erasmus+.

On Wednesday night, as part of Brexit legislation, MPs voted down an amendment that would have required the government to negotiate continued membership of Erasmus+. A Department for Education spokesman later said: “The government is committed to continuing … the next Erasmus+ programme,” but added the ominous caveat, “if it is in our interests to do so.” But its lack of real interest in this important scheme makes me truly sad. Contrary to the story told by the photographs, Erasmus meant so much more to me than a year of partying. It opened the world to me.

Those of us who took part will mourn for the future generations who’ll be missing out if this does turn out to be the end of the programme

Related: Brace yourself: the next phase of Brexit is going to get messy | Mujtaba Rahman

Continue reading...