Before I say anything, I should probably point out that, with this blog post, I’m not trying to propagandise for Bremain. I’m aware that both sides of the EU referendum debate – voting to remain in and voting to leave the UK – have their pros that appeal to different groups of people. Maybe some people will benefit more from remaining, and maybe others will benefit more from leaving. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the EU referendum.
I studied and worked abroad in Italy last year on the Erasmus and Exchange programme, I spent my final year as Secretary for the Erasmus and Exchange society, and I’ve just been elected President for the next academic year. My boyfriend, an Italian graduate who I met while on Erasmus, is hoping to move to the UK for work. So if you haven’t guessed it already, I’ve more or less made up my mind to vote to remain in the EU on Thursday 23rd June.
Staying in Europe is going to have economic benefits, yes, but the simple truth is that I love Europe and I love what the EU stands for. The European Union was born out of a desire for peace in a continent previously divided by war. I’ve met so many young people from all over Europe (and further beyond) spending Erasmus at the University of Leicester this year – being on the committee of ULEES has really made me appreciate Europe as a unified community and the freedom of movement within Europe, and I can’t wait to run the society as President in 2016/17.
Speaking of which, what impact will a vote to leave the EU have on student mobility and the Erasmus exchange programme? At this point, we’re not entirely sure. Fortunately, according to Helen Campbell, students should still be able to study in European countries even if the UK isn’t part of the EU (you can read her blog post on why Britain should remain in the EU here).
But it’s worth remembering that, being out of the EU, it could make the prospect of studying/working abroad on Erasmus a lot more difficult. At the moment, UK students doing an Erasmus study or work placement are eligible to receive an Erasmus+ grant ranging from 250€-400€ per month. This grant funding is a great thing because it opens up the Erasmus exchange programme to a wide range of students from various economic backgrounds. Seeing as this funding is provided by the European Commission, a Britain outside of the EU may not have a right to access it.
Just recently, Eddie Izzard announced that he will be touring 31 cities in 31 days, campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU. He’ll be delivering a speech at the University of Leicester on Thursday 16th June, encouraging young people to vote to remain (more details here). I won’t be able to go but it’s probably worth checking out!
All this being said I think the important thing, more than anything, no matter whether you’re voting to remain or leave, is that people remember to register to vote on time. Research shows that young people are the least likely to vote, which is a real shame, because the results of this EU referendum are going to affect us for the longest period of time. This is such an important poll so people need to put in the effort to make sure their voices get heard and help influence the direction of our country.