The programme designed to replace an EU-funded student exchange scheme will offer “wider access”, a minister has said.
Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart defended the Turing scheme when he appeared at a Westminster committee on Thursday.
The devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales want to continue using the EU’s Erasmus scheme beyond the end of the Brexit transition period but the UK Government have opted for their own scheme – named after the famed codebreaker Alan Turing.
Mr Stewart was asked about the Turing scheme at the Scottish Affairs Committee.
Committee convener Peter Wishart asked if the UK Government simply put requests to stay in Erasmus in the “to be ignored file”.
Mr Stewart said the Government had not taken a “dogmatic” approach during Brexit negotiations and had decided to stay in other schemes like the Horizon research arrangements.
He said: “With Erasmus, what we decided was – it has many benefits but we think there is a better way of delivering those benefits.
“The new Turing scheme will, I think, broaden and deepen the international contacts that students have.
“We want it to have wider access, it will allow, for example, students at colleges to take part, even school pupils to take part in it.”
One of the main criteria for Turing funding would be how exchanges could widen access, he said, while it would have a global reach.
The Turing scheme will be backed by £110 million and is due to start in September this year.
The EU has said Scotland and Wales will not be able to rejoin Erasmus due to the decision taken in London.
Elsewhere, a German MEP has said the decision to leave Erasmus was “deeply regrettable”.
David McAllister, chair of the UK Co-ordination Group in the European Parliament, spoke to MSPs on Thursday.
He said: “This is a total lose-lose situation. I really, really am disappointed, especially because the UK Government originally indicated they would be ready to continue the participation in this programme of academic co-operation.
“It is important to point out the UK can come back at any time should it wish to revise its decisions.”