All eyes on post-Brexit collaboration
Higher education representatives from more than 60 universities gathered in London to discuss the latest research and developments, focusing particularly on Brexit and the growing trend for universities in Europe to deliver courses taught entirely in English.
Organised by Cambridge Assessment English and UK NARIC, the conference ‘Leading the way in international admissions and recruitment – Europe: Collaborate or compete?’ featured presentations from industry experts ranging from the importance of repositioning university partnerships post-Brexit to student recruitment and developments in student interest in the UK and continental Europe.
“UK universities can continue to make a major contribution to international education”
Regional director for Cambridge Assessment English in Europe and North Africa, Hervé Marc, opened the event with a warning that the next few years will present serious challenges to international student mobility.
“But, we are convinced that by maintaining an open, collaborative relationship with colleagues across continental Europe and beyond, UK universities can continue to make a major contribution to international education,” he added.
UUKi’s head of European Engagement, Anne-May Janssen, provided an update on lobbying efforts in favour of UK universities, while deputy MD of UK NARIC, Paul Norris, gave an overview of the English Medium Instruction Quality Mark and told delegates that “we might be hitting the threshold in terms of the number of EMI programs that countries are comfortable delivering”.
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A panel featuring director of International Office at VU Amsterdam, Frans Snijders, and senior admissions officer at UCLAN, Rebecca Leech, discussed the growth of English-taught programs across Europe, and whether Brexit is having a negative effect on recruitment and collaboration.
“We all look to UCAS for data… but the majority of our [international] students come to us directly”
“The strange thing is that while you would expect the prospect of Brexit would lead to British universities not being involved as much with Dutch universities, I noticed our cooperation with British universities actually increased,” Snijders said.
In terms of student numbers, Leech explained that the initial decrease in interest from EU students for courses at UCLAN is now showing signs of reversing.
“At UCLAN, we did initially see a decrease in European applicants, which we expected, but we have seen an increase last year and in this recruitment cycle,” added Leech. “We hope it will continue, but we have also put extra work into recruitment efforts.”
Leech also pointed out that a lot of international applicants do not come through the UCAS channel.
“We all look to UCAS for rich data to utilise, but a lot of our [international] students come to us directly, or through agents.”
She added however, that while international students who historically have come to the UK from source markets are not seeing Brexit as a barrier to coming to the UK for their studies, students from emerging study abroad nations will require more reassurance.
“I think students coming from China and India – those who have always had their minds set on a UK degree –are not seeing it as a barrier in terms of not being welcome, but those applicants from emerging nations need reassurance that the outcome of these decisions aren’t going to affect their welcome in the UK,” Leech said.