British schools overseas fear losing ‘stepping stone’ status

29th July 2016 at 00:00
European parents may spurn BSOs if students no longer qualify for loans to attend UK universities

British schools in EU countries could lose their appeal among parents after the Brexit vote because of a lack of clarity over EU students’ access to UK universities, a representative body has warned.

The Council of British International Schools (Cobis) has written to the Department for Education to outline its concerns, as about 45 per cent of the body’s 265 members are based in the EU.

Cobis’ letter points out that parents choose to send their children to British schools overseas (BSOs) in Europe because they provide a stepping stone to a prestigious university education in the UK.

But Cobis says that it is unclear whether EU students will continue to benefit from loans to pay UK university fees, or whether they will have to pay the higher rates charged to overseas students from outside Europe.

The letter also asks for reassurances on whether A levels will continue to be accepted by European universities and whether British teachers working in Europe will continue to have their qualifications recognised and be able to work in those countries freely.

“Look at the investment families have put in from the early years right through to the age of 18,” said Colin Bell, chief executive of Cobis. “They feel their next natural progression is to higher education in the UK. About 60 per cent of BSO pupils go on to UK universities and we want that to continue.

“There’s a danger that [Brexit] would make all things connected to British education less attractive, including BSOs.”

Mr Bell said that after the vote it felt as though the UK was “the child in the playground who doesn’t want to play with anybody and no one wants to play with us”.

‘A big problem’

Gary Minnitt, vice-principal and head of secondary at the British School of Brussels, said the UK was his main source for finding teachers. “Recruitment and retention could be a big problem if it was made more difficult to employ British teachers”, he added.

A government spokesperson said: “Teachers, including those who work for British schools overseas, make a huge contribution to our country.

“The government has been very clear that when we leave the EU, we fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in EU member states, will be properly protected.”


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