New opportunities for disadvantaged students to travel abroad 

Disadvantaged young people make up the majority of international study placements, new research published yesterday (3 January) shows. The government said its flagship Turing Scheme, which enables students to work and study abroad has proved a success, providing tens of thousands of young people across the UK with transformational opportunities. 

The Turing Scheme was introduced in 2021 to widen access to global opportunities in education and training following the UK’s departure from the European Union.  

The new research shows that in its first year alone the scheme has strengthened partnerships across the globe, beyond Europe. Now in its third year, the latest figures show that more than 40,000 students are set to benefit in 23/24 academic year, 60% of which are from disadvantaged background or underrepresented groups. This includes around 1,800 additional students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the further education sector alone compared to last year. 

The report also highlights how the scheme has supported universities, colleges and schools across the country to strengthen existing partnerships and develop links with a wider range of countries such as the USA, Japan and Canada, not just EU countries. Students reported benefits including a significant improvement in both skills and academic knowledge, and the opportunity to experience different cultures, fostering a richer international outlook that goes beyond traditional classroom learning. 

Minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, Robert Halfon, said: “The Turing Scheme is a real game-changer for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, empowering them with transformative opportunities abroad, a chance to experience other cultures and learn vital skills for life and work. 

“It showcases our positive ambition post-Brexit, fostering a global outlook for more students who deserve every chance to thrive. 

“Young people benefit from inspirational placements around the world, not just Europe, building the confidence and skills they need for their future, whilst bolstering the government’s drive for a Global Britain.” 

Students can study and work in a wide range of areas including healthcare, the environment and construction at over 160 countries including Canada, Japan and the United States – alongside popular European destinations like Spain and France.  

Students from Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow got a better understanding of the environmental concerns highlighted by the United Nations’ COP26 summit by visiting the forested outskirts of Reykjavik, while student nurses at the University of Bradford gained an entirely fresh perspective on healthcare after undertaking work placements across Africa. 

A group of T-level students comprising of nursing, construction and IT students from Somerset also gained valuable knowledge and skills during a two-week Turing Scheme placement in Mississippi.  

Jon Harding, international and education projects manager at the college, said: “Some of these students are on support funding on their courses and there were probably five or six who had never had a passport, hadn’t travelled out of Somerset and it was their first time on a plane. 

“That impact for us was huge. We are in an area that, demographically, has a high level of families with low incomes and it was a big win for us that we could integrate students that probably wouldn’t have undertaken this, or similar trips, if the Turing Scheme funding wasn’t there. They wouldn’t have been able to afford to go.” 

Year 5 pupils from Lanchester EP Primary School in Durham took a trip to India in January 2023 in the second year of the Turing Scheme. For many of the pupils, this was the first time they had left the UK. 

Kate, a pupil from Lanchester EP Primary School said of the experience: “During the week we did lots of fun stuff. We went to two different schools and learnt about children’s rights and what the children at the schools needed and wanted. 

“Going on this trip has really changed my view of the world and it makes me want to travel more to learn about different cultures.” 

Catering students from Southeastern Regional College in Northern Ireland got the chance to hone their skills with a trip to Tennessee. This trip was the first experience outside of Europe for all the participating students. 

Student Ellie Hamilton, from Bangor, said: “Learning about new foods and styles of cooking and how the line kitchen works – where the cook supervises a specific area of the kitchen and reports to the head chef – was very interesting.  

“The trip has made me more culturally aware and more confident in my own skills and abilities.”  

Entrepreneurial students from Nottingham Trent University boosted their business acumen and employability skills with a visit to Mexico. 

The government announced its plans for the Turing Scheme in December 2020, which would provide funding for international opportunities across the world. Erasmus+ provided travel support to participants who travelled to Partner Countries, which was around only 3% of UK participants. The Turing Scheme provides funding for travel costs for disadvantaged HE students and funding for visas, passports and related travel insurance. 

Details for the Turing Scheme’s fourth year will be announced shortly. 

Image by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.

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