Coventry University has announced plans to open a branch campus in Poland, in what is said to be the first independent venture for a foreign university in the country.
The UK university said that it will open a new outpost in Wrocław to offer Coventry degrees taught in English from September 2019.
It is the third UK university known to be considering opening a European branch campus in the wake of Brexit; last week, Lancaster University confirmed that it is considering opening a European campus, following in the footsteps of King’s College London, which last year said that it was looking into opening a European site in partnership with TU Dresden.
Coventry said that its new campus plans to offer full- and part-time undergraduate courses in business, cybersecurity and IT, engineering, and hospitality and tourism – all of which are disciplines the university said that it had identified as being in demand in the Lower Silesia region of Poland.
The university added that it hopes to collaborate with local employers to design and deliver degrees that aim to produce “work-ready” graduates, while courses would be flexible to enable students to study while working part time.
The new campus will also provide student exchange opportunities for those based in Poland as well as those at the university’s UK campuses in Coventry, Scarborough and London. Coventry already collaborates with the Wrocław University of Science and Technology to teach a master’s degree in European systems and control.
While several UK universities have recently strengthened their ties to Europe by focusing on research collaboration, the Coventry campus is notable for its concentration on student recruitment.
John Dishman, pro-vice-chancellor and chief executive officer of Coventry University, said that the European campus plan “pre-dated” the Brexit vote but is linked to the fact that Coventry “sees itself as a global institution”.
“As a university, we try to position ourselves in various places across the world and what is absent in that mix at the moment is a European campus,” he said.
On the decision to open a site in Poland specifically, he said that the country is the main source of continental European students at Coventry’s UK campuses, while Wrocław is a “vibrant student city with 135,000 students” and European and global companies are increasingly establishing a presence there.
Mr Dishman added that the campus has a target of attracting 300 students in year one, increasing to about 2,500 students by year five or six.
Recent data from the UK admissions service Ucas show that the number of Polish applicants to UK universities rose by almost 130 per cent between 2012 and 2018 and by 23 per cent in the past year. It is now the fourth biggest source of applicants for UK universities from other EU countries.
John Latham, vice-chancellor at Coventry University, said that “students from Poland and central Europe place a great deal of value on a UK education, and we’d want to emphasise that they will be more welcome than ever at British universities, including our own”.
Rafał Dutkiewicz, the mayor of Wrocław, said: “For the first time in history, a renowned foreign university has decided to make such a significant commitment to the life of a Polish city and to open a campus with us.
“We are convinced that both Wrocław residents, as well as Coventry University – recognised as one of the best and most innovative in Europe – will benefit from this.”