Reflecting upon my experience as a participant in the Erasmus+ Programme, I am reminded of the immense value and transformative power of international education. During my academic year abroad, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the vibrant city of Milan and studying at one of Europe’s most prestigious universities. Having embarked on this journey following a year defined by lockdowns, my time in Milan was an incredible contrast to the year before. Immersed in a shared living environment with exchange students from a variety of backgrounds, I was captivated by the profoundly enriching experience. To afford every student the same opportunity as I had, Scotland should expedite the development of its own programme to replace Erasmus+.
This transformative experience was only made possible by the funding and support of the Erasmus+ Programme. Not only did it provide an opportunity to form lasting friendships, but it also had a significant positive impact on my academic performance. The exposure to new teaching methods, different perspectives, and rigorous academic standards in Milan challenged me. Beyond the academic realm, the experience allowed me to explore the regions of Italy, immersing myself in their unique cultures and traditions. The cultural and social benefits derived from Erasmus+ cannot be underestimated; it fosters personal growth, enhances employability, and develops language skills. Moreover, the exchange of ideas with individuals from different backgrounds broadens perspectives’ immensely.
As Scotland faces the post-Erasmus era, it is imperative for the Scottish Government to expedite the development of a replacement programme, following the example set by the Welsh Government’s Taith Programme. By doing so, the Government can demonstrate its commitment to internationalisation and position itself as a global leader in supporting and promoting international academic mobility. International exchanges play a crucial role in developing Scotland’s reputation as a global education hub, attracting talented students from around the world and fostering cultural diversity within its universities.
Beyond the economic and academic advantages, the social and cultural benefits of international exchanges cannot be overstated. The lasting friendships I formed with fellow Erasmus students continue to transcend borders. I have been fortunate enough to meet up with friends from abroad on multiple occasions since my return to Glasgow. These connections have allowed me to experience the hospitality of different countries first-hand. The opportunity to meet up with friends in their home countries or have them visit me in Scotland has deepened our friendship and broadened my understanding of the world.
As I prepare to meet up with my friends from Erasmus over the summer, I am reminded of the immense personal growth and lasting impact of this experience. I have benefited greatly from Erasmus, and I believe every student should have the opportunity to partake in such an enriching experience. The Scottish Government must prioritise the implementation of a replacement programme and catch up with their Welsh counterparts. Introducing this scheme would demonstrate a commitment to students’ well-being, enhance Scotland’s reputation as a global education destination, and provide countless individuals with the transformative opportunity to broaden their horizons through international education. The delays surrounding the programme’s implementation are disappointing, but the Scottish Government has the opportunity to rectify this and ensure that students across the country can benefit from international academic exchanges.
Dominic McCarron is the Scottish Young Fabians Publications Officer.