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Is the Brexit Deal good or bad for HigherEd in UK?

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Are you also curious if the Brexit Deal is good for UK Higher Education system? Then read the Note by Mark O’Hara, Associate Dean (Student Learning Experience), Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University.

London - where do you go?


A note given by Mark O'Hara, Associate Dean (Student Learning Experience), Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, BCU


“My first instinct was to laugh.”

When asked to write a few words on the impact of Brexit on UK Higher Education my first instinct was to laugh. Here are just a few of the headlines contained in a single newspaper on the same day (The Guardian online, 17-11-18):

• Gordon Brown calls for royal commission to define new type of Brexit

• Corbyn said it could not)Brexit can be stopped says Keir Starmer (two days after Jeremy

• Brexit deal not dead despite DUP warning, says David Lidington

• German steel giant ThyssenKrupp says Tories have abandoned business. It is a "complete shambles"

• May's Brexit under siege from all sides of the Tory party.


These days, every day is like this.


If experts and politicians don't seem to have a clue what the future holds I wasn't sure what I could possibly

contribute?

Not much at a policy level certainly, but I and my students are going to be affected just like the rest of the country and there are three areas in particular that are a cause of concern for me. The first centres on internationalisation of the HE curriculum; an incorporation of intercultural and global dimensions and perspectives into our underlying philosophy,

design and delivery of the student learning experience. Not only is such exposure valuable in its own right, it also offers students an excellent means of differentiating themselves in the jobs market upon completion of their studies. Having spent the past fifteen years, at least, arguing the case with students and staff for the importance of having this global perspective, continuing to do so in a post-Brexit Britain is probably going to feel even more like swimming upstream.

My second concern revolves around student and staff mobility.

Although our students are not often attracted by 3, 6 and 12 month Erasmus exchanges for a wide variety of reaso

ns (including jobs, caring responsibilities, lack of additional languages and restrictive housing contracts) they are very

interested in short duration activities partially funded by my Faculty's 'Go Abroad' scheme. In addition, BCU staff have benefitted hugely from teaching and training exchanges funded through the Erasmus programme. I'm currently the BCU representative on an Erasmus + curriculum development consortium involving colleagues from Austria, Germany and Finland. If Brexit goes ahead, what price future opportunities of this sort for myself and my colleagues after 2020

- 21, when our current projects end? I'm not sure any of us know yet.


Damage for UK HEIs

Finally, I worry about our efforts to attract more EU and overseas students. There is little doubt that many of those voting 'Leave' in the Brexit referendum of 2016 were motivated in part by fears of immigration and certainly, successive governments in recent years have adopted ever more draconian postures in their efforts to win elections. Unfortunately, the current rules impact significantly on would be international students. Visas, additional restrictions and university 'surveillance' of students' whereabouts could contribute to an increasing perception of the UK as a hostile environment. Not only would this damage UK HEIs financially, it also makes for a much less rich and diverse learning experience for home students and staff.

So, as I predicted, not much strategic vision and definitely no answers from me; but I certainly have plenty of questions

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