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Brexit (Impact on Learning Opportunities)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

6. To ask the Scottish Government how learning opportunities for young people in the Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn constituency could be impacted by Brexit. (S5O-04040)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Scotland’s young people benefit enormously from our relationship with the European Union, and in particular from participation in the Erasmus+ programme. Exit from the EU risks there being a significant reduction of learning opportunities for young people if participation in the Erasmus+ programme and any successor is not maintained. The negative impact will likely be felt in our youth work provision, school exchange programmes and the life-changing opportunities that are available in our colleges and universities.

The Scottish Government is absolutely clear that all the advantages of European Union membership must be retained so that our young people can continue to reap the benefits of those vital programmes.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

Royston Youth Action in my constituency believes that Erasmus+ has been a key opportunity that is worth its weight in gold, and that ending it would be a statement of stagnation and backwardness in community learning and development. Will the minister meet young people from Royston Youth Action to hear first-hand about the contribution that Erasmus+ has made to learning? Will he join me in urging Boris Johnson to visit Royston, too, so that he can see for himself the benefits of Erasmus+?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I would be delighted to take up Bob Doris’s offer to visit Royston Youth Action. It is important that all members of all parties in Parliament remember that although people often think of Erasmus as being about college or university students on European exchange programmes—of course, that is a fundamental part of Erasmus—it also benefits other young people and youth work in Scotland. Proportionally, more people in Scotland participate in Erasmus than is the case in other parts of the UK. Therefore, any dilution of our association with Erasmus and exiting the EU will have a disproportionally damaging impact on Scotland. Royston Youth Action, which Bob Doris mentioned, is a fine example of what is happening around the country and of what we must protect for the future.

Boris Johnson and his party voted against full membership of Erasmus just last week in the UK Parliament. He would do himself a favour if he were to visit initiatives such as the one in Royston.