Back in 1998/9 I had the opportunity to study in Leuven, Belgium – a beautiful old University town, most famous now for Stella Artois, but once the residence of a philosopher called Erasmus.
Each year almost 2,000 young Scots – and thousands more across the UK – have a similar opportunity to spend a year abroad in Europe as part of their University studies, thanks to the EU’s ERASMUS programme named after that very philosopher. With my colleagues who also benefited from that fantastic opportunity, we are keen to ensure future generations can too by continued EU membership, broadening horizons and boosting language skills.
It’s just one strand of the huge educational and research opportunities that the EU brings to Scotland and the UK.
Back in my Erasmus year I enjoyed debating the future of Europe with young people from across our continent. We held a variety of views about the huge challenges of our time – climate change, security, protection of workers rights. But we were absolutely united in the view that international co-operation through the EU was by far the way we could tackle them. I think that’s even more true today.