THE BLOG

Druid Britain and the New Erasmus Stats

11/07/2014 13:23 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 10:59 BST

On a day that saw the Daily Express un-ironically ask its readers to text whether ALL migration to the UK should be stopped, new statistics about the uptake of the EU Erasmus programme, providing grants to young people to study in other EU countries, seem designed to add fuel to the sacred flame of Europhobia.

"Scrounging foreign students clog up OUR unis at YOUR expense"; "Brits shun continent but lazy foreign students are coming over HERE" - these are just two of an infinite variety of paint-by number headlines I can immediately predict.

To a paper which seems to consider the Druids the last legitimate inhabitants of these isles (before those unwashed Romans came over here, stealing our women and carpeting our beautiful countryside with unsightly aqueducts) and would no doubt swap the drawbridge for the Channel Tunnel any day, the Erasmus programme is just one more COSTLY and IRRITATING EU concoction.

According to the European Commission 14,500 British students took the chance to study elsewhere in Europe thanks to Erasmus in 2012/13, a 7 per cent rise from the previous year. Britain has the sixth highest number of successful applicants across the 28 members, no mean feat if one considers how poor the language skills of its young people are compared to some of their continental neighbours'.

The stats also reveal Britain to be the fourth most attractive Erasmus destination for EU students. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that 7 out of the top 10 EU universities are British and English has in effect become the unofficial language of the EU, spoken by most youngsters across the continent.

All the same, this is fantastic news, as the grants disbursed centrally by the EU find their way back into the coffers of UK universities and happy foreign students go on to provide free marketing for them around the EU.

The new, improved version of the Erasmus programme, recently agreed for the next 7 years, will extend grants to high school students, volunteers and apprentices. The European Commission estimates 162,000 young Brits will take advantage of it over that period.

By contributing to Erasmus through its share of the EU budget Britain gets in return more money for its universities, grants for foreign travel for its students, as well as the priceless diplomatic and cultural gains to be had through such exchanges.

It is, after all, through travel, cultural links and the communication of engineering and scientific discoveries that we progressed from the crude monoliths of Stonehenge to the engineering marvel that is the Channel Tunnel. Only 'travel' and 'cultural links' often came in the guise of war or at the price of actual invasions, not via Treaties and debates in the European Parliament.

But these arguments would no doubt be lost on the elderly readers of the Daily Express, busy as I imagine them to be today instructing their Eastern European carers to text their newspaper that ALL immigration should be stopped.