Some 38,000 UK learners will join outbound mobility initiatives through the Turing Scheme in 2022/23, statistics have shown after the latest application results were announced.
The results show that 23,986 higher education and 9,605 FE/VET students will be supported, as will 4,721 at school level.
The total 38,312 students that will be supported is higher than the 35,000 target that was originally slated when the program was announced in late 2020, but is a drop since 2021/22 when 40,000 students were projected to be supported.
The UK government was particularly pleased that the number of disadvantaged students set to travel overseas on educational programs had almost reached 20,000.
“I am delighted that following a successful launch year, the Turing Scheme will now be giving more disadvantaged students than ever before the opportunity to embark on their own journeys across the world,” UK minister for Skills Alex Burghart said.
In the next academic year, 52% of students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, up from 48% last year, the government noted, saying that it is continuing “to deliver on the government’s commitment to levelling-up opportunity across the UK”.
Total figures show that the number of those from disadvantaged backgrounds for the next cohort is 19,932, while last year it was 19,713.
“This government wants to open these opportunities up to so many more students in regions that lost out under Erasmus+ so that students of all ages can embrace different cultures, make new friends and acquire new knowledge,” Burghart added.
The government says that disadvantaged students “previously benefitted less under the Erasmus+ scheme”. The North-East of England, with 22 university, school and college providers, is one region set to receive a share of the total £105 million funding, the government noted.
“The key focus on students from non-traditional backgrounds is a real strength of the scheme”
More than 130 universities, 116 further education providers and 70 schools will gain financial backing, which will support study, school exchanges, and industry work placements in over 150 international destinations.
The scheme provides students across the UK with short- and long-term opportunities that “can fit around existing commitments and program requirements”, said Jamie Arrowsmith, assistant director for Policy and Global Engagement and incoming acting director of Universities UK International.
“The key focus on widening access for students from non-traditional backgrounds is a real strength of the UK scheme,” he added.
“We are pleased to see the increase this year, in the grant funding allocation to support students from less advantaged backgrounds, which demonstrates the strong commitment from UK government and UK higher education providers to widening access.”
The replacement for the Erasmus program also allows institutions to “develop new and innovative partnerships with organisations all across the globe, as well as sustaining strategically important relationships internationally”, he continued.
“It is important that future funding for the scheme supports the scale of UK students’ appetite for international experiences, to maximise the transformative potential of the scheme,” the incoming acting director noted.
The number of FE/VET participants for the second year of the program will jump from 6,888 in year one to 9,600 in 2022/23.
“This highlights the growing interest in the scheme”
“This highlights the growing interest in the scheme and the role that AoC, as a member of the Capita Turing Scheme advisory board, and other organisations are playing in promoting the scheme across the UK education sector,” Emma Meredith, international director at the Association of Colleges, told The PIE.
The further and vocational education sectors also represent the highest proportion of disadvantaged participants. The 58% disadvantaged FE/ VET participants (5,554 students) is higher than the 52% for higher education (12,356 students) and the 43% of schools participants (2,022 students).
“FE/VET mobility visits in year one have been truly global with Europe remaining central to the scheme but visits also extended out to the Americas and Asia,” Meredith said.
The FE/VET grant rates are “more comprehensive in that travel costs are available for all participants”, she noted, unlike in higher education where only disadvantaged participants are covered. Additionally, FE/VET students are eligible for linguistic support.
“The total Turing budget broken down by sector also needs to be considered in light of these costs,” she said.
“AoC is looking to work with our international network in 2022/23 to see how we can help more colleges to find international partners for mobility, as for some providers international mobility is a new strand to their work and they need support to get off the ground.”
However, testimonials from participants “speak to the tremendous power of international mobility as an enabler of personal and technical skill development”, she noted.
UK sector stakeholders have previously called for the current 12-month project cycle to be switched to a multi-year funding model and warned that the current application process is too burdensome.
However, the high number of applications demonstrates growing interest in the scheme, Meredith said.
“Whilst AoC has no specific data on the application success rate, we will certainly be looking at how we can help the sector with first-time bid-writing and drawing on the expertise of FE/VET providers with a track record of successful mobility.
“AoC will continue to liaise with the Turing delivery partner and our members to suggest ways in which the scheme can go from strength to strength in terms of its access and processes,” Meredith said.
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