The Turing scheme
Replacing the Erasmus scheme, the Turing scheme is the UK government's answer to study abroad. FInd out how it works, who's eligible and what financial support is available.
The Turing Scheme is a new UK Government programme to promote international opportunities for students.
Announced after Brexit as a replacement for the Erasmus programme, it aims to fund work or study abroad placements for up to 35,000 participants from September 2021.
It’s named after Alan Turing, the computer pioneer best known for breaking the enigma code in World War II, whose own international experience included study at Princetown University in the USA.
How is the Turing Scheme different from Erasmus? Well, unlike Erasmus, the Turing Scheme:
- Won’t bring students to the UK – it isn’t an exchange scheme
- Won’t fund staff training visits to other EU universities
- Will only apply to students in the UK’s educational system
- Will open up opportunities to other international destinations
- Will include short placements as well as placements of up to a year
Historically, the take-up of overseas opportunities by UK students has been low. Erasmus also offered education staff short visits to broaden their experience so teaching staff could develop new skills or ideas, or admin staff improve upon support systems. Instead, with the Turing Scheme, only students in UK education will be able to take up opportunities to study or work abroad.
However, by not being restricted to the nations participating in Erasmus, the Turing Scheme could open up opportunities across the globe – as well as to more English-speaking nations. Also, while the minimum Erasmus exchange is three months, Turing Scheme placements can be as short as four weeks, which could open up participation for more students.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who were the least likely to take up an overseas opportunity with Erasmus, are offered extra support through the Turing Scheme.
While most UK students will now only have access to the Turing programme, students in Northern Ireland can still participate in Erasmus, thanks to Irish government funding.
In higher education, students at any level of study are eligible for support – whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate or even a recent graduate. You could be studying full-time or part-time.
The scheme is also open to students of any nationality, so long as they study with a UK (or British Overseas Territory) higher education provider.
However the funding isn’t directly available to students, but must be bid for by higher education institutions. Universities must demonstrate that their project meets four key objectives:
- Global Britain: building connections worldwide
- Levelling up: helping promote social mobility, with equal access for all
- Developing key skills: aiming to help students develop skills to help them in work
- Value for UK taxpayers: providing value for money
Projects must also show how they’ll support disadvantaged students.
If a bid is successful, the HE provider will then recruit participants from their students.
So, as a student, you’ll only get to benefit from the Turing Scheme if your university or provider has successfully won a grant and then selects you. Institutions bidding for funding in 2021/22 should know whether they’re successful by the end of July 2021.
Unlike Erasmus, where students could only exchange to participating nations, the Turing scheme allows students to go to countries anywhere in the world. This includes plenty of English-speaking locations, making the scheme more accessible for students who don’t have language skills or overseas experience.
The scheme could enable you to study at an overseas university, or gain experience on a traineeship. These could be with be with any non-UK higher education provider, or non-UK organisations (whether private or public).
Grants will be broadly in line with Erasmus funding. The money you get will depend on how long you’re away for and where you study.
There are different rates of support, depending on whether the destination country is deemed to have:
- A high cost of living (Group 1, such as the USA or Japan)
- A medium cost of living (Group 2, which includes Finland, France and Brazil) or
- A low cost of living (Group 3, places like Chile, Bangladesh or China)
2021/22 Turing Scheme higher education grants
- Placement length 4–8-week placements 8+ weeks, up to 12 months
- Group 1 destinations (high cost of living) £136 per week £380 per month
- Group 2 and 3 destinations (medium and low cost of living) £120 per week £335 per month
How does it affect student finance for UK students?
If you get a maintenance loan in the UK, you’ll still be eligible for this when you’re abroad. You’ll also get a tuition fee loan for your home university in line with current study abroad arrangements. The position on tuition fees for any overseas university is unclear, although the government expects these to be waived for Turing Scheme participants in the same way they are for Erasmus+.
If you currently receive any grants because you have children or are disabled, you’ll continue to receive these.
Extra support for disadvantaged students
There'll be extra money to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds with contributions towards your travel and to cover expenses such as visas, passports, health insurance. Plus, you’ll be eligible for a higher rate of grant for your living costs: £490 a month to Group 1 destinations, or £445 a month if you’re going to a Group 2 or 3 country.
You might be defined as a ‘disadvantaged student’ if you:
- Come from a low-income household or receive benefits because you financially support another adult or children
- Are care-experienced, estranged from your parents, or have caring responsibilities
- Are a refugee or asylum seeker
Part-time, disabled and mature students may also be supported, along with ethnic minority students or those who are first in their family to go to uni.
Students with special educational needs and disabilities may get money for the cost of the support required by their additional needs.
You should ask your university or HE provider whether funding is available.
If funding is available, the amount you could get will depend on how long your placement is, and which country you’re going to.