December 3, 2023

Some high-level support is needed to tackle immigration barriers to ensure Turing’s future success, attendees at a House of Lords event heard.

Emma Meredith, Director of Global Engagement and Interim Director of Skills Policy, Association of Colleges, stressed that pre-mobility visit funding was not part of Turing, as it was for Erasmus.

Such support is especially important for special educational needs placements, where follow-up visits are often necessary to make sure measurements are appropriate for a student or group, Meredith said.

Meredith added that the scheme, now in its second project cycle, was sorely lacking in staff mobility options with £106m allocated to support 38,000 planned mobility projects.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Taith program is now one year old, in its first project cycle with 6,000 mobilities planned for this year.

“Both programs represent a major commitment to the young people and skills agenda,” said Charley Robinson, Head of Global Mobility Policy, UUKi.

Both programs represent a big commitment for young people

“Both schemes also represent a significant shift towards more global opportunities, with 95 countries funded by Taith this year and over 150 destinations this year.”

Sarah Leach, Head of Global Mobility Programmes, University of York, agreed that the global aspect was a huge benefit of the new programme, with Australia, Canada and Japan the top destinations chosen by York students – all of which would not have been funded by Erasmus.

She added that another advantage of Turing is the possibility of offering short-term mobilities lasting at least four weeks, which, according to her, could be more attractive for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But Leach said much more could be done in terms of long-term funding, describing the current situation as “short-sighted”.

Financial Times reported that university administrators said the Turing system had been “plagued with problems” since its launch, including an annual allotment system that resulted in significant payment delays, with some students missing out on the experience altogether.

This is the last year that universities can access the remaining Erasmus funding before the Turing and Taith programs become key sources of external funding for UK programs and stakeholders have previously raised concerns about the project cycle.

According to Robinson, participation in both schemes was very high, with the Turing scheme being “severely overloaded”.

“External funding is extremely important to facilitate and grow foreign mobility,”

Already in its first year of operation, Turing accounts for half of mobility funding at 49% of universities, Robinson said.

“We can only expect it to increase as Erasmus funding decreases.”

UUKi is calling on the UK Government to extend the length of time short-term exchange students can stay in the UK on visitor visas from six months to one academic year. While those staying less than six months can use standard visitor visas, students staying longer need a student visa, which has strict language requirements and high costs.

International students studying in the UK participating in the roundtable agreed, highlighting that this can be a deterrent to studying in the UK, along with the cost of living.

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