By Teresa Gomez, Communications and Marketing

19 January 2018 - 14:21

Feria de Universidades del British Council School

The UK, still the top destination for Spanish students, despite uncertainties  over Brexit. 

More than 130 institutions took part in the British Council School University Fair

British universities continue to be favourite amongst Spanish students looking to study abroad. This trend remains on the increase despite all the uncertainty which Brexit has provoked. Judging by our University Fair, the high level of employability offered by British institutions, their reputation, the vast offer of degrees available (almost 35,000) and the grants and loans which can be applied for, continue to tilt the balance in favour of the UK compared to destinations elsewhere.

The British Council Schools´ University Fair has once again brought together some of the very best institutions in higher education, including some of the most prestigious names around the World such as Harvard and Bristol and Lancaster Universities, amongst others. A total of 133 universities from 11 different countries, both public and private, were on show for parents and students. There is a whole array of possibilities open to students in deciding how to begin a successful degree course.

The UK continues to be the most sought after option amongst Spanish students who want to study abroad and it´s important to bear in mind that there are no changes planned over the next academic year. “The British Government has promised to maintain current conditions in pricing, loans,etc., until they finish their studies, for all those students registering on a course in 2018/2019, explained Carolina Jiménez, the British Council´s Education Director in Spain. This guarantee has been key in calming down uncertainty over Brexit.

According to the latest official data, there were 10,890 Spanish students registered as studying in British universities during the 2015/2016 academic year, Jimenez said. She also assured everyone that it´s Spanish students, second only after German students, who are most valued in the UK, something which certainly kills the “myth that Spaniards aren´t welcome”.

British universities continue to be favourite because of the high level of employability which they afford their graduates, because of the quality of their teaching, their reputation and the variety and flexibility which they offer. “There are 35,000 different degree couses in the UK” Carolina Jimenez assured us. This is a huge number of subject combinations, which in a much more rigid system like Spain, is just not possible.

Although we are still not sure how Brexit will affect higher education, British universities are confident that things won´t change very much after 2020. “I think that the UK will continue to be a top destination for Spanish students, even if there is an increase in fees. I think that the grants and loans system would be adapted to suit the needs of European Union citizens”, assured Jaime Breva who was representing Essex University.

Along the same lines, Magnus George from Lancaster University said: “I expect it won´t change too much, either for students, or academics. And I hope that the Erasmus programmes will be maintained because EU students, are, and will continue to be most welcome at our universities”. In any case the situation should be resolved before next June, when the admissions process for the 2019/20 academic year starts.

University Counselling Service

Beyond the UK, there are other European destinations which are gaining ground in particular specialist areas. These include the Aeronautical Engineering Faculty at Delft University in Holland, which is globally, the 4th most prestigious in this area; Italian universities in the areas of fashion and design, and Swiss universities in high-end hotel management. And whilst there is an interesting course offer available in other countries like the United States or Australia, the prices and distances involved continue to limit their demand.

In any case, there is such a vast number of courses on offer, that it is easy to get lost and miss out on opportunities available. That´s why our university counselling service is increasingly playing a more important role in helping students choose the best degrees at the best universities. “At the British Council School, we have strengthened and expanded our counselling team and we have noticed how student numbers using this service has grown. We have seen an increase in numbers applying, especially to British universities, but also to other less common countries, such as Canada”, explained Pamela O’Brien, Head of Secondary at the British Council School.

O´Brien continued to explain that from the last years of ESO, and especially through the last two years of the Bilingual Baccalaureat (BiBac®) programme which the School offers, “a School mentor will accompany the student through the whole process of choosing a university, submitting their application, etc. This helps students to get to know themselves, to discover their own potential and to fully understand the opportunities they have in front of them. It helps them to open the door to some of the very best universities in the world”.

Choices in Spain

Both public and private Spanish universities are internationalising, offering double degrees, bilingual degrees, agreements with other universities abroad, etc. At the Pontificia Comillas University (ICAI-ICADE), which is one of the most sought after private ones, for example, the high level of internationalisation, along with its excellent reputation for guaranteed employment and practical job experience, is one of its key selling points.

State universities also continue to benefit from their experience and excellent reputation. This is, for example, the case with the Universidad Politécnica. Marta Olea, the lead Professor of Business Engineering and Management reminded us that: “We have almost 300 years experience training engineers and run more courses than any other university”. She also highlighted other benefits of a state education: “Students learn to overcome problems, live alongside other students from all walks of life, learn to manage independently and learn how to study autonomously without the total support of their teachers or their parents. This, I believe, adds value and builds character”. Olea also defended state universities against charges of overcrowding. “It isn´t true that public sector universities are overcrowded. Registration numbers after the Bologna Process are 70 students per course, those attending class around 40 and in optional subjects in Third Year, there are groups of 10 or 15 people. This means a highly tailored, individual standard of teaching. This is what is happening in state universities”.

*The British Council School University Fair was supported by the following institutions:

Spain: Camilo José Cela; Centro Universitario Villanueva; CEU-San Pablo; CIS - The College for International Studies; CUNEF Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros; ESIC; ESNE; Instituto de Estudios Bursátiles; Instituto Europeo di Design ; Ministerio de Defensa - Orientación universitaria; Nebrija Universidad; ESCP Europe; Universidad Carlos III; Universidad de Navarra; Universidad Europea de Madrid; Universidad Pontificia Comillas; Universidad Rey Juan Carlos; Escuela Universitaria de Hotelería y Turismo de Sant Pol; IE University; U-TAD; Universidad Francisco de Vitoria; Vatel Madrid; EU Business School; CEV; Escuela Internacional de Protocolo; ISDE; CEDEU; Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. United States: Harvard; Saint Louis University Madrid Campus; Oxbridge Academic Programs; Schiller International University; University of Alabama, Birmingham; University of California, Berkeley Extension; City College of New York; Colorado State University; Drew University, New York; George Mason University; University of California Irvine, Division of Continuing; Education; James Madison University; LongIsland University Brooklyn & Post; University of California, Los Angeles Extension; Marshall University; Merrimack University; New York Film Academy; Northeastern University, Boston & Seattle; Oregon State University; Pace University; University of California, Riverside Extension; Roosevelt University; University of California, San Diego Extension; Saint Louis University; University of South Florida; Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; University of Tulsa; University of Vermont; Washington State University; Widener University. Canada: Royal Roads Universit. Australia: Australian National University ANU; Charles Sturt University; Griffith University; University of Technology Sydney UTS; La Trobe University; A+CAPEC. New Zealand: Media Design School. Switzerland: Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne; International School of Hotel Management Les Roches Spain/Switzerland; Glion Institute of Higher Education. Germany: WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management; EBC Hochschule. Nederland: TU Delft / Faculty of Aerospace Engineering; Fontys University; HZ University of Applied Sciences; Saxion University of Applied Sciences. UK: University of Sussex; Essex University ; Kent University; Lancaster University; University of Buckingham Medical School; Bristol; Surrey; Goldsmiths University of London; Keele University; University of Aberdeen; Aberystwyth University; Anglia Ruskin University; Bangor University; Bath College; Bath ; Spa University; Bournemouth University; Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts CSVPA ; University of Central Lancashire UCLAN; City, University of London; Coventry University; University of East Anglia; Edge Hotel School; University of Essex; Glasgow Caledonian University; University of Gloucestershire; University of Greenwich; Hult International Business School; Lancaster University University of Law; University of Lincoln; London College of Contemporary Arts LCCA; Newcastle University; University of Northampton; Northumbria University; Nottingham Trent University; University of Portsmouth; University of Reading Regent's; University London Sheffield; Hallam University; University of South Wales; University of Southampton; Southampton Selent University; St Mary's University College; University of Stirling; University of Westminster; Richmond The American International University in London; Suffolk University Madrid Campus. Denmark: University College of Northern Denmark UCN; VIA University College; Zealand Institute of Business and Technology ZIBAT. Italy: Domus Academy; lstituto Marangoni; Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti NABA; Università Bocconi