Brexit outside Britain

Those of us living in the United Kingdom may, in the light of recent excitements here, sometimes forget that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (‘Brexit’) does not just have repercussions in Britain. In fact, it is increasingly clear that the implications of Brexit are huge and reach into areas of economic and social life all over the EU, to an extent that has not yet been fully worked out. This of course includes higher education. An obvious element of this is the Erasmus programme, under which students can undertake some of their studies in another EU member state. If Britain were to leave the scheme, this would not just affect UK students who might gained experience elsewhere in Europe, but also the host universities, and indeed the 125,000 or so students from other EU states who are typically studying in Britain at any given time. Another significant impact could be felt in research, where even now there is evidence that academic cross-EU partnerships involving British academics are being affected.

One country that will be particularly concerned about the implications of Brexit is Ireland. There is virtually no area of Irish life where there could not be a significant impact, not least the almost impossible conundrum of what will or will not happen with the Irish border. But in Ireland also the concerns in higher education are significant. They were given an airing recently by Fiona O’Loughlin TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills, at a symposium on EU affairs and the impact of Brexit.

Of course there are many international links and partnerships in higher education, and not just those involving EU member states. However, some of the mood music of Brexit has been strongly anti-internationalist, and it will be important for the key players to emphasise that higher education across borders remains a driver of policy, and that academics will not have to fight to retain the key features. Right now that is not obviously the case, and it is scary.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, politics


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One Comment on “Brexit outside Britain”

  1. paul martin Says:

    “academics will not have to fight to retain key features” chimes with the continuing Niall Ferguson (Sunday Times 9/10/16)sense of entitlement of those, particularly at the top, that have most benefited from EU membership.
    Whilst the Conservative party gets on and grapples with the issue, however badly, the anti-Brexit (elite) group continue to moan: from Physics Nobel prize winners away on foreign shores who say that they are not coming back to general lobbying for a 2nd vote. It might be scary but the Scottish FE/HE system had been letting down those who voted out: be it the College cutbacks or focus on overseas students (eg in Aberdeen the difficulty in University access through Clearing).
    Yes Erasmus had benefits but there were drawbacks. Let’s hear some constructive ideas for this new world not repetitive choruses for the status quo.

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