Brexit and international educational opportunities

  • With Brexit negotiations officially underway, are international educational opportunities at risk?
  • In the 2nd instalment of our International Convergence series, the NQ looks into the potential strong international relationships have for students



International relationships between universities here in Britain and in mainland Europe could be set to face a challenging few years with Brexit looming. But how important are programs, such as Erasmus, for student’s educational potentials?

Universities have utilised exchange programmes like Erasmus for years, allowing students to study in different universities in a variety of countries, benefiting from a wealth of culture and knowledge.

Now, the UK director for Erasmus, Ruth Sinclair-Jones believes “we face a sad moment of uncertainty,” for the future of the programme. Over 200,000 UK students have participated in the programme since it was launched. Their grants were paid for with EU funding.

Despite the looming problems, which are inevitable with leaving the European Union, Manchester Metropolitan University thought it was a good idea to create stronger links with European institutions, for example, Journalism and Information departments from MMU sent staff and students to meet and collaborate with staff and students from Utrecht’s University of Applied Sciences in Holland.   

MMU and Utrecht students
Students from MMU and Utrecht form a bond over drinks

The goal of the collaboration was to create an International Newsroom, which in turn would help build students’ confidence and employability.

Trips such as this afford students the chance to learn from lots of different guest lecturers, on different topics to which they may not learn about back in the UK.

Lawrence Brannon, Journalism lecturer at MMU,  discussed the benefits of joint projects for students, especially in a post-Brexit world: “The result of the Brexit referendum was a bit of a shock, and I think it is really important to promote international projects to MMU students.

“The broader your horizons, the greater your awareness of the possible opportunities out there when you finish. Education opportunities, future employment, experience travelling or just making friends and contacts, there are many opportunities available if you have the confidence and desire to look.

Expressing fears about the impact Brexit could have on the future of similar projects, Lawrence added: “We have already seen the participation of British institutions and researchers in collaborative projects questioned, especially when these projects are reliant on European funding.

“There is a substantial risk that the amount and scope of future collaborations could be reduced.”

International collaborative projects, such as International Newsroom, clearly have a significant educational value in the development of students; with two lecturers from two different universities in two different countries both making compelling arguments for the continuation of the age-old practice.

Lawrence Brannon - Utrecht
Lawrence & Miffy

With such uncertainty looming, the NQ spoke to Dutch senior lecturer, John Driedonks, to find out how European professors view Brexit.

Speaking about the joint project, International Newsroom, John said:  “The International converge room could break Brexit.

“Brexit is just an administrative thing – a political thing, perhaps economic, but the International Newsroom transcends all those roadblocks.

“To hell with Brexit! Let them negotiate. Let them scream ‘May Day!’ We’ll continue!”

John Driedonks
John Driedonks

It is uncertain how Brexit will impact the future development, or regression, or international educational relationships, but if projects such as the International Newsroom continue, it may not matter that Britain is out of the EU.

The International Newsroom programme shows just what is possible when universities collaborate on projects, providing invaluable learning opportunities for students