British universities are considering extending their campuses into the European Union due to heightened uncertainties surrounding Brexit over what sort of relationship they will have with the EU in the future.
On Monday [3 Oct. 2016], Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, which will propel Britain into negotiations over its place in the single market, along with the question of what will become of EU University funding.
The EU currently provides about 15 per cent of all university research funding in British universities, which equates to just over £20 million for the University of Leeds.
The question of EU funding and how it will be met by the current government post-Brexit has caused concern for British universities and their ability to maintain their standing as the home to some of the world’s top institutions. Our position in university global league tables is heavily reliant on research supported by EU funding, which is competitively sought after.
A potential reduction in the number of international students looking to study in Britain is another concern of universities considering EU expansion. Overseas students currently make up 5% of all undergraduates in Britain, which is currently one of the most sought-after destinations for international students to study. 436,585 students from outside the UK came to study here in 2014-15. EU campuses may aid in the recruitment of international staff and students.
Our Vice Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, has previously told The Gryphon that although he was originally worried with the outcome of Brexit, he now feels more hopeful as “[Leeds] is a very international university. We’ve got alumni in over 190 countries, so in a way we were international even before we joined the EU.”
The Vice Chancellor has also praised the broad international base of student intake that the University gains each year that they will aim to retain as “we benefit enormously from having EU students here”. The University of Leeds currently has no plans to establish campuses within the EU.
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