Turing Scheme: more details emerge for university bidders

The document includes details for applicants – but neglects to mention an application deadline

The government has released further details of the UK’s new Turing Scheme – the £110-million domestic replacement for Erasmus+. 

The scheme, which is “global in outlook”, will support 35,000 outbound UK exchange students, ministers promise.

The Turing scheme will initially run for one year, with students expected to take up places abroad from September 2021.

A 40-page document published on the official Turing Scheme website confirms details of the application and assessment procedures – but neglects to mention an application deadline. Applications open later this month.

The document confirms that external assessors will consider applications, with final funding decisions resting with the DfE and the devolved administrations. 

Assessors will consider bids against a scoring system with three metrics which aim to establish how prospective projects will deliver value for taxpayers, ‘level up’ access and opportunity, and further “Global Britain”. Each criterion accounts for 50%, 30% and 20% of the total assessment, respectively. 

The document states that successful applicants will receive notifications in summer 2021. Eligibility criteria for universities and students were released by the Department for Education (DfE) last month. 

The Turing Scheme is hosting webinars to support applicants.

The scoring system 

Demonstrating value for UK taxpayers requires applicants to show that a project will develop participants’ skills and that success can be “verified and measured”. 

Applicants should also demonstrate how the project is “likely to have a substantial positive impact on the participating organisations and participants” and “wider value to the institution and those not-participating”, the document states. 

A non-exhaustive list of possible benefits that the projects can deliver includes “educational attainment, social mobility, soft power, exposure to new ideas, research, and innovation”. 

Proposals must also be “new or additional to existing practices within the sending organisation”, it adds. 

These criteria will account for 30% of marks available; the other 20% of the value for money metric assess the design and implementation of the scheme, namely whether its “activities are clearly defined, comprehensive and realistic” and likely to be achieved. Universities should show how the programme will prepare students for life abroad, “including linguistic, cultural and/or educational/technical preparation”, and collect and use participant feedback. 

The scheme should support the government “levelling-up” policies, the assessment process states. Universities can do this by detailing how they plan to “target groups with less access opportunities or additional educational needs”. They can demonstrate this by showing how they will support with “fewer opportunities” – such as providing help with “passport costs, cultural and language preparation”. 

The Turing Scheme will employ a “broad basket of measures” to define disadvantaged groups, which includes students with an annual household income of £25,000 or less, those in receipt of Universal Credit, care leavers, those with caring responsibilities, estranged students and refugees and asylum seekers.

The DfE also said it would welcome bids that prioritise the following students: those from an ethnic minority; that are first-in-their-family to go to university; have special educational needs; are part-time or mature learners. 

Universities should “already working with international partners or looking to start international relationships with suitable project partners,” the document explains. They should also provide “clear reasoning for the countries involved” and why the partner “organisation(s) involved are suitable and demonstrates a strengthening of UK-international relations”. The DfE has said there are no restrictions on the countries involved. 

Extra funding worth between £490 and £445 per month is available for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to help cover living costs – provided in addition to support with travel costs. For example, a disadvantaged student travelling to nearly every university in the European Union would receive between £165 and £325 towards the cost of a round trip. Trips of less than 99km receive £20.

For participants with SEND, “the Turing Scheme will fund up to 100% of actual costs for support directly related to their additional needs”.

Read more: The ‘new normal’: Glasgow staff told to ditch flights for video conferencing

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