Brexit can be a big opportunity for (some) Spanish and Portuguese Universities, but they have to seize the chance.

The UK’s vote in 2016 to leave the EU or Brexit has brought with it interesting opportunities in the European student sector, in particular for EU Universities and Business schools that offer English taught Bachelors and Masters.

Uncertainty remains over treatment of EU students around immigration and fees. Most likely, tuition fees in the UK for bachelors will rise to current non-EU levels (instead of approx. 8.000-9.000 £ many freshmen will pay a sum between 15.000 and 30.000 £). The cost-benefit of studying in the UK to these students will become less appealing, with the exception for top-league schools such as Oxbridge, and LSE.

In addition, the UK decided to leave the highly successful ERASMUS exchange program as well. This will convert Spain and Portugal in even more appealing Erasmus destinations as they are right now.

EU students studying in the UK accounted for 6% of all students in 2018-19. It is expected that this will fall down by more than 50%, shaping extra opportunities for Spanish and Portuguese Universities.

Also, the Spanish and Portuguese “Politécnicas” (technical universities) produce excellent STEM-talent every year, but often need to emigrate to find good opportunities. With the remote working revolution in place, some Benelux companies are already considering right now to employ some GREAT stem-talent in a remote working relationship (something which was already common for nearshoring and back offices).

There is, however, a big BUT: not all Universities offer English taught bachelors and/or Masters. The private Universities are much better prepared for this task (schools like IE University, Esade, Deusto and especially the private schools in Lisbon.

And the Iberian institutions are not really great at branding themselves. They should step up their sales effort, if not, the Dutch, Danish, Swiss, French, German and other European institutions will be able to win over the best students and the best professors.

Last but not least, more foreign students means more residences, more local spending in bars, supermarkets etc., more interior traveling and a much more lively and vibrant atmosphere.