Overseas students’ interest in short-term study abroad experiences in the UK will “grow substantially” despite Brexit, a senior university administrator has predicted.
David Pilsbury, deputy vice-chancellor (international development) at Coventry University, said that while there might be “a short-term decline” in the number of international students coming to the UK after the country leaves the European Union, “the attractiveness of the UK will predominate”.
Speaking at a Universities UK International conference on transnational education, Dr Pilsbury said that UK universities will probably “no longer get people from Eastern Europe coming to the UK for three years. But we think that the number of students who want to come to the UK for short periods – and that may be less than a year – will actually grow substantially.”
“The challenge for the sector is to change to accommodate more short-term inbound trips,” he said.
European students may have to pay international tuition fees in the UK after Brexit, meaning that the cost of UK degrees could increase substantially for them.
In July, Coventry announced plans to open a branch campus in Poland from September 2019, which will offer Coventry degrees taught in English and provide student exchange opportunities for those based in Poland as well as those at the university’s UK campuses.
When asked whether European university networks could help drive transnational education collaboration between Europe and the UK, Dr Pilsbury said that “the big hole for all of us as a sector is that the British Council” has not been active in Europe in the way it has been in Asia.
“Because of the geopolitical role we’ve had in Europe, it’s not done as much there. Now we want it to do it, it’s got financial problems, such as funding cuts,” he said.
“Our future to some extent is going to be determined by [the British Council’s] ability to help us in Europe because you do need these facilitators and intermediates. I think that they will be much better than any networks.”
Dr Pilsbury added that the British Council has a unique opportunity to engage with policymakers and regulators in Europe, allowing UK universities to focus on the academic side of collaborations.
“We cannot ignore the fact that we as institutions do not have the capacity to develop these relationships effectively on our own,” he said.
Maria Tsakali, head of education at British Council in Greece, told the event that the organisation has “the connections on the ground” to be a “trusted partner” for UK universities.