News that major universities in the UK, including the University of Oxford, are considering opening branch campuses elsewhere in Europe, has been revealed in the Telegraph.
Senior staff at Oxford University met French officials last week to discuss the possibility of opening a branch campus in Paris, breaking over 700 years of tradition for the institution.
Many other UK institutions, including Warwick, have also been approached to open campuses in France.
A response to the pressures of Brexit?
As a result of the referendum, many industries have been looking at relocating to the continent. France has been considering the possibility of the banking sector relocating to the French capital, and indeed a number of banks have already announced plans to move to Paris. The logic behind such moves is that relocation would enable companies to continue to reap the benefits the EU provides, and universities are in a similar position.
UK universities have been assured that any campus opened in France would have French legal status, and therefore would continue to receive EU funding. The impact a withdrawal of EU funding could have on the UK’s higher education sector is huge, so it comes as little surprise that institutions are looking at ways to negate the consequences of the vote as much as possible.
How would it work?
Should an institution open a branch in the EU, it could mean that some degree courses and study programmes are relocated to the continent, and joint degrees and research laboratories are set up. This could have the added benefit of offering UK students a more outward-looking education.
The University of Oxford is yet to make a final decision, but construction could begin as early as 2018 if plans are agreed upon, according to a spokesperson quoted in the Telegraph’s report:
“Oxford has been an international university throughout its history and it is determined to remain open to the world whatever the future political landscape looks like.”
The report goes on to cite the dean of the ESSEC group (Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, and former director-general of the French ministry for education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, as confirming the news. Blanquer also added that the plans are being discussed with the French government.
“We want to say to British universities: ‘it can be a win-win game for you’. To have high quality institutions from the UK working in our territory, interacting together in terms of research and collaboration.”
Higher education in the UK is still very much in the dark as to the effects of Brexit, as is every other industry, but institutions are already looking at ways of ensuring their continued success in the market.