Erasmus: interest in studying at universities in the Netherlands grows

The University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, is a magnet for international students, who in the country represent around 10% of the 36,000 enrolled students. Unlike other years, the campus is fairly quiet, as the pandemic canceled exchange programs and forced many students to stay home. The student community in this European city is joined by another event: the UK’s decision to withdraw from the Erasmus + program as a result of Brexit. Now many students, like Theresa, 22, from Germany, will not be able to go ahead with their plans.

“For me personally, it had an impact, since now with Brexit, I can no longer go there with the Erasmus program. I study economics and the UK is known for having very good universities in this discipline. As an international student, it was always something I took for granted, that I could go anywhere in Europe, ”explains Theresa.

Without the financial support of Erasmus +, the tuition fees and cost of living in the UK will be unattainable for many foreign students. It will also be more difficult for British students to obtain visas to study in other European countries. For the Erasmus Student Network, leaving the UK is a major blow to a program that has often been hailed as one of the Union’s greatest successes, responsible for shaping the European identity of more than 10 million people. since it started in 1987.

“The support you receive in general with the Erasmus + program, with your scholarship, with your home university, with your destination university is such that I simply don’t understand why you would want to quit a program that brings so many benefits to your students”, explains Imke Greven, the president of the Erasmus Student Network.

According to the Netherlands agency in charge of implementing the Erasmus program, with the UK leaving the EU, Dutch universities could be even more attractive to foreign students due to their wide range of studies in English. A recent study showed that half of students pursuing a career in English would choose this country as their first alternative.

“Our programs in the Netherlands are of high quality, people speak relatively good English, and there are many study programs that are taught entirely in English,” says Jeroen Wienen, Spokesperson for Nuffic organization, charged with internationalizing education.

The UK government announced that Erasmus, which currently benefits some 18,000 British students a year, will be replaced in September by another program, named after Alan Turing. However, despite Brexit, several officials from Utrecht and other European universities believe that the spirit of Erasmus is still alive, and that the long-standing academic cooperation between institutions on both sides of the channel will lead to new bilateral agreements and scholarships.