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Could Brexit Create More British Degrees in Europe?

13th March 2017 Posted by: Francesca Turauskis

OXFORD University is no stranger to myths and rumours, but the most recent one is that Oxford has been considering opening a satellite campus in Paris. Whilst Oxford denied the rumours, the idea made people very excited.

The story came about when French officials confirmed they had been meeting with several UK universities, including Oxford, to consider the option of satellite campuses post-Brexit. There has been a lot of speculation over how Brexit will affect UK universities (from a drop in EU students applying, to a decrease in UK/EU collaborations on funding and research) and even more speculation on how universities will combat this. Opening satellite campuses in Europe could be one way: it would allow EU students to attend and get qualifications from UK universities without worrying about any changes to visa-rules – and it will also mean that the satellite campuses would still be eligible for EU funding.

With such benefits, it is likely that other UK universities – and countries other than France – will consider this path, even if Oxford does not. However, it might take a while for universities to agree with European countries and create the new satellite campuses. Fortunately, for EU students considering alternative ways to get UK qualifications, there are already several UK universities that have ties to Europe that will be difficult to break.

Below are some examples of UK-EU collaborations that give students more options – and could be good examples for more UK universities to follow.

Universities that already have satellite campuses

Whilst some UK institutions are only just considering satellite campus, other universities are already ahead of the game. The University of Kent describes itself as the ‘UK’s European University’ and when it is the only UK university to have four study centres across Europe, you can see why. Postgraduate courses are offered in cities that offer a cultural tie to the subject being taught: heritage management courses are offered in the ancient city of Athens, their School of International Studies is located in Brussels, Paris is the home of the arts and humanities courses, and Rome is where their studies of the ancient world are centred.

The BIMM Institute opened a campus in Berlin in 2015 to expand opportunities for students

Specialist colleges that excel in their field also have a good base to expand into Europe. The BIMM Institute (The British and Irish Modern Music Institute) offers degrees, diplomas and vocational training for those wanting to go into the music industry. It has already used its reputation to expand beyond Britain: in 2011, it opened a campus in Dublin and in 2015 it opened one in Berlin. By opening these campuses, BIMM has recognised that it is able to offer both UK and EU students some much-needed opportunities in a competitive field.

A UK qualification in a European institution

Because the UK’s academic qualifications are not national awards but instead are granted by individual institutions, UK universities still have some control on how they offer their courses. There are already a few UK universities that offer students the chance to study in a European institute but gain a UK qualification. Coventry University, for example, has strong ties with Metropolitan University in Budapest. There are several top-up degrees offered there in British Advertising and Events Management that are awarded by Coventry University. Metropolitan has a strong reputation in Media subjects, so the joint venture with a top British institute like Coventry University means that students get the best of Europe and Britain on their CV.

Budapest is home to Metropolitan University, which has links to Conventry University in England

This type of degree is becoming more common in Asian countries, but is still quite hard to find in Europe. After Brexit, this may change.

Joint degrees awarded by the UK and Europe

An option that is similar but slightly more common is when two institutions collaborate to offer a course. Again, this can be seen a lot between UK universities and institutions outside of Europe. For example, Queen Mary’s London currently offers a unique joint programme (JP) in three universities in China: Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Nanchang University, and NPU. This JP means that students study in China, are taught in English (half by Queen Mary’s staff and half by the staff from the host university) and graduate with two separate degree awards – one from each university.  

There are a few universities that offer similar joint courses in Europe. UCL, for example, recently started offering an undergraduate European Social and Political Studies: Dual Degree in collaboration with the prestigious Science Po in France. Students would spend two years in Science Po and two at at UCL, graduating with an award from both institutions.

King’s College London similarly has several joint programmes in that are taught in Europe, including two in Law – English Law and French Law in combination with Universitè Paris 2 - Panthèon Assas, and English Law and German Law in combination with Humboldt University of Berlin. Both these courses would be taught in England and Europe, and would give graduates an award from both universities.  

Distance learning

A fourth option that many UK universities might consider more post-Brexit is the idea of distance learning. Some universities already offer extensive options for those who cannot reach campus: Edinburgh Napier, Open University and Manchester University all offer a variety of distance learning courses. Whilst this is not an option for more practical courses, with technology getting more advance this is a more viable option than ever.

Edinburgh Napier university has a number of distance-learning courses available

Whilst Brexit is an unknown quantity that could be concerning for UK higher education, and international students who want to study with UK universities, it does not have to be the end of collaboration. Institutions just need to think about alternative options they can offer students so that a British education is not out of reach for anyone.   

If you are interested or concerned about how Brexit might affect international students, read more:

Should I Still Study in Britain? Don't Let Brexit Stop You

New Brexit Studies Centre

International Study Post-Brexit: What Did Theresa May's Speech Tell Us?


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