In the latest attempt to attract students using the agreeable climate of the Mediterranean, a performing arts college that teaches in English has been set up near Barcelona.
Based in the arty seaside town of Sitges, 20 miles (30km) from Barcelona, the institute’s pitch to students is that it offers interdisciplinary courses, lower fees than England, cheaper living costs, the attractions of the “Spanish lifestyle” and 300 days of sunshine a year.
The project is funded by private investors with a personal interest in the institute who are looking for a return only in the “long term”, according to Giles Auckland-Lewis, chief executive of the institution.
The institute could have been located anywhere, he said, but the founders wanted to pick somewhere with good transport links where “people will want to go”.
The IAB’s prospectus explains that Sitges boasts a sunny microclimate, an international film festival and the “largest street carnival in mainland Europe”.
Mr Auckland-Lewis, a former director of higher education at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (Lipa), said that the popular seaside resort would have many empty holiday flats and apartments during the academic year that could be used to house students.
He said he expected to attract students from Spain as well as from the UK given that the former country’s arts education system was still “developing”.
The IAB will start this year by offering one-year diplomas in dance, acting and musical theatre.
From 2014, it will roll out bachelor’s degrees in the same subjects. Two years after that, it plans to introduce undergraduate courses in stage management, arts entrepreneurship, popular music and film production, along with master’s degrees in dance, theatre making, musical theatre, arts entrepreneurship and music.
The one-year diploma will cost £7,500, which students will have to pay up front, although Mr Auckland-Lewis said the institute could take payments in instalments and was looking to make arrangements with banks to provide loans.
The first year’s cohort will number between 35 and 40, with eventual maximum numbers totalling 600, he predicted.
Although the institute will teach students the specific “technical skills” of performing and recording, they will be encouraged to collaborate, he said.
To facilitate this, he explained, the institute will not be divided physically between different subjects. As a result, students will be able to “float around” picking up diverse skills from their contemporaries, he said.
Lipa and Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance are “helping [the IAB] on the journey”, Mr Auckland-Lewis said.
The IAB’s non-executive directors will include Michael Earley, chief executive of Rose Bruford, and Mark Featherstone-Witty, principal and chief executive of Lipa. Advisory visits will be paid to the IAB by staff of the Liverpool institute.
Although the IAB aims to recruit from the UK, Mr Auckland-Lewis said it was not in competition with Lipa and Rose Bruford because of the small numbers involved.
The IAB was being “very, very conservative” in its growth estimates, he added.
John Shaw, UEL’s pro vice-chancellor international, has said that one of the major draws for Russian applicants, in particular, was the Mediterranean island’s “fantastic climate”.
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