Coventry MP sets her sights on students being able to study in the EU

Taiwo Owatemi MP for Coventry North West launched an All-Party Parliamentary Group focused on securing a future for the Erasmus scheme.

This week, Taiwo Owatemi MP for Coventry North West has launched the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Erasmus+.

The 27-year-old MP and senior cancer pharmacist is ambitious and passionate about social mobility. She believes the Erasmus programme has given her constituents, and thousands across the UK, opportunities to study abroad and has welcomed some of the brightest to our shores.

The UK was the eighth highest participating country in the programme in 2017, with nearly 32,000 students coming to the UK and 17,048 British students taking advance of the scheme for higher education or work placements.

The Coventry MP is working with the city’s two prestigious universities – the University of Warwick and Coventry University – as a starting base for the campaign.

University umbrella organisations the British Council, Russell Group and Universities UK have already come out in support of the programme. The Vice-Chancellors and students of the two Coventry Universities will attend the APPG launch in the effort to pressure the government to provide reassurances on the Erasmus programme.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on 15 January that “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme”, but the government has failed to provide any formal reassurances that the Erasmus scheme will survive the UK’s departure from the European Union intact.

Unconvinced so far, Taiwo said: “Given his track record when it comes to promises, I won’t rest until we have that assurance in black and white from both the UK and the EU.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group will work across party lines to protect the cohesive exchange of staff and students across international borders.

Through the APPG, the group will work with parliamentarians and organisations across the public, private and third sectors to champion and protect the opportunity for UK students and staff to study and work in other countries and ensure that the UK remains an attractive place to study for international students. 

The European Union’s Erasmus scheme provides funding for education, training and sport. While it particularly focusses on youth work, it also provides funding for activities aimed at all ages. It aims to address socio-economic issues like unemployment and social cohesion through study abroad and work placements. 

Commenting ahead of the inaugural meeting, Taiwo said: “I have been heartened by the response so far from MPs and Peers, university umbrella organisations and student bodies. With both Warwick and Coventry universities in my city, I feel duty-bound to do everything I can to secure the scheme’s future.

“In this new decade, fostering aspiration and opportunity among the next generation is something we should all be able to get behind. We either help unlock young peoples’ potential, or we stunt it.”