European Higher Education in the Context of Brexit

Printer-friendly version

Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. European higher education law and policy. – II.1. The Bologna Process and the EHEA. – II.2. The EU and its higher education law and policy. – III. The UK and European higher education law and policy. – III.1. The UK and the Bologna Process. – III.2. The UK and EU higher education and policy. – IV. The implications of, and on, Brexit. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: The UK has been a main “winner” in European higher education. In the European Higher Education Area, the UK has successfully exported its higher education model to the other EU Member States and beyond, without conceding powers to the EU in that regard. It reaped the benefits of an enlarged higher education “market” on which its higher education institutions could successfully compete, at minimal administrative, political or other cost. Furthermore, in EU higher education law and policy, the UK has occupied an equally advantageous position. The UK has been very successful in obtaining EU research funding. This could potentially be linked to its brain-gain in being a major net importer of mobile EU students, researchers and academics. At the same time, because of its fee-paying model, this imported talent has come at a very low cost, as EU law on student mobility and diploma recognition has worked mainly to the benefit of the UK model by requiring equal treatment as regards tuition fees but not maintenance grants. This Article explores the impact that Brexit may have on European higher education and the UK’s position within it, and vice-versa. It will argue that the UK’s current strength in higher education may be one of its weak spots in the Brexit negotiations.

Keywords: Brexit – EHEA – Bologna Process – ERA – student mobility – diploma recognition.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 3, pp. 1293-1317
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/271

* Professor of EU Law, College of Europe, and on leave from the European Commission,


European Forum


Forum Européen


Forum europeo


Foro Europeo