viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017


Brexit could have far-reaching consequences for education both in Spain and Britain. With the current deadlock in negotiations there are serious concerns about the recognition of school-leaving qualifications, the legalisation of documents and the need for work permits for teachers and other staff at British schools and British-owned language schools. Another issue is the payment of UK university fees for pupils at British schools in Spain, which will probably change after Brexit (see table).

SchoolsSince national education systems are largely immune from EU legislation, any impact will be limited to external factors such as:

-European exchange and partnership schemes such as Erasmus,
-Recruitment of EU teachers, whose qualifications are currently recognised along with those of other members of regulated professions
-Number of students on roll if large outward emigration of EU citizens and their children ensues from Brexit

Concerns for British schools and language schools in Spain
There are some 120 British schools in Spain, teaching approximately 50,000 children and employing several thousands of teachers. There are also some 4,000 English language schools, each of which employs several UK teachers.
The principal concerns of these schools and the parents of their pupils are:
the need for a new recognition system for UK qualifications to replace the current EU-based model,
the likelihood that work permits will be required for UK teachers, previously exempt as EU citizens,
the possible loss of Home Student status for those students progressing to UK universities (see above), and
the foreseeable need to have UK educational qualifications legalised – they are currently exempt under EU-inspired Spanish law.


UK universities have been extremely successful in attracting EU research funds. They currently receive 9.6 bn euros directly from the EU with a further 0.74 euros leveraged from other sources on the back of every euro of EU funding, leading to total research expenditure of 16.8 bn euros attributable directly or indirectly to EU membership. Universities, as yet, do not know how much of this funding will be replaced by UK research funding post-Brexit.
Universities readily acknowledge that their successful research track record is due to a great extent to joint research with leading continental universities and their ability to attract first-class researchers from other EU member states.
Cooperation with leading EU universities will be difficult to maintain unless any future research funding system specifically caters for cross-border collaborations.

Researchers and teaching staff

Some 34,000 EU academics work in UK universities. In the Russell Group alone, 23% of research and teaching staff are from the EU and there is a similar pattern across the whole university sector. Many of them have achieved high academic office as Professors, Heads of Department, Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors. While their membership of Modern Languages Departments will come as no surprise, they underpin many other disciplines, including the Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM).
UK universities are already suffering from recruitment blight. Existing staff are becoming demotivated by a lack of clarity over their future rights and a growing perception of hostility in both the population at large and in the administration, particularly in the Home Office. Some have left already, and others are thinking of leaving, especially those with contracts shortly due for renewal. The same reasons are driving the reluctance of potential researchers to come to Britain as they are worried that the lack of guaranteed continuation in their own projects and a lack of security for their own personal status within the UK could easily lead to the sudden truncation of their own career trajectories. This is amplified in the case of those with non-EU spouses.
The imposition of visas and work permits for academic jobs would be added obstacles to attracting world-class researchers and lecturers.
Universities in other EU countries and further afield have been quick to grasp the opportunity to attract many of these high-fliers to their own institutions:

Student recruitment

According to UKCISA, there were 127,440 EU students at UK higher education institutions in 2017. Nevertheless, the number of new applicants from EU countries fell 7% this year, according to UCAS. Since the objective conditions for these students have not changed yet, many universities worry that this decline represents a change in the subjective perceptions of the UK as a study destination.
At present, students from EU countries pay the same flat fees as UK students (home student fees - £ 9,250 per annum in 2017), qualify for a loan to cover their fees, repayable only after graduation once annual income exceeds a certain amount, and, in the case of Oxford and Cambridge, have their college fees covered.
If EU students were to lose their Home Student status and become classified as Overseas Students, they would have to pay the Overseas Student fee (plus any Oxbridge college fees) annually in advance since they would lose their rights to a loan. The overseas fee varies widely according to university and discipline and EU students would have to pay up front between £ 11,500 and £ 49,900 instead of the current £ 9,250.  In addition, further barriers could be created through the imposition of student visas or the elimination of the current right of postgraduate students to work after qualification.
The Home Office’s insistence on including foreign students in immigration quotas is not helping.
International higher education has become extremely competitive, with many European universities now offering degree courses taught through the medium of English at very competitive fees. This could mean that an outflow of UK students to EU institutions will lead to a further reduction in student recruitment by UK universities.
Some universities may make up for the deficit by increasing recruitment from non-EU countries and in this, for a while at least, they will be assisted by the decline in the value of the pound. Nevertheless, the international market is a very competitive one and some universities find their overseas intake skewed by over-recruitment from a small number of countries, such as China, India, United States, Nigeria or Malaysia.

Transnational education
Several UK universities offer cross-border collaboration leading to the award of British degrees through courses taught in Spanish institutions thanks to EU Directives on the freedom of establishment and the freedom of provision of services. However, British universities and their Spanish partners will lose this legal safeguard once the UK leaves the European Union.

Departure from the EU does not necessarily mean the end of Erasmus programmes for UK universities but they are unlikely to continue to continue in the same form or to the same extent as has been the case up to the present. What happens with Erasmus will depend very much on future negotiations for which the final outcome is far from clear at the moment.

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