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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.
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+?
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.