An Exeter professor has urged students to take action ahead of the EU referendum, following fears that Brexit would “threaten the future of British students abroad.”

Professor Melissa Percival emailed all Exeter Modern Languages students on year abroad placements, sharing a link to Students For Europe petition “Protect our access to the Erasmus+ programme.”

An EU initiative, Erasmus+ offers funding for students on year abroad placements across Europe. Over the past three academic years, 1,400 Exeter students have carried out placements in countries covered by the programme.

“Of course staying in the EU guarantees this access,” the French, Art History and Visual Culture professor told students – also sharing a link to the UK government’s ‘Register to vote’ page.

Percival told Exeposé she decided to contact Exeter students after receiving an email from Students For Europe. “People need to know this stuff ,” she said. “It’s not for me to tell students which way to vote, but it is my responsibility to get the information out there, and ask: have you actually thought about Erasmus?”

“The Erasmus programme greatly facilitates modern linguists, but also other students,” she explained. And will we lose access if Britain leaves the EU? “Like with so much of this ‘leaving the EU’ thing, we just don’t know,” Percival said. “But what is clear is that there’d be no guarantee of carrying on within Erasmus. We’d have to start from a position of not being in, and renegotiate our entry into it.”

This would be “time-consuming,” she added, and would likely heap admin work on University staff , “which personally I hate to see happening, because it diverts funds from actual teaching.”

“Erasmus is an important programme which has provided valuable educational and cultural experiences for Exeter students” a University spokesperson commented. The University’s senior team has “advocated the benefits that being part of the EU brings to UK universities” they added, explaining that academics “want students to be informed about the impact on Erasmus if the UK left the European Union” so they can “make up their own minds about how to vote in the forthcoming referendum.”

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