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HEPI: The Bologna process and the UK’s international student market

James Cemmell and Bahram Bekhradnia, The Bologna process and the UK’s international student market, Higher Education Policy Institute, 2008. Pdf file, pages 35.

The UK already had in place action proposed by the Bologna accord in establishing a European Higher Education Area. Indeed, UK higher education institutions (HEIs) had also engaged in other far reaching reforms concerned with funding, accountability, autonomy, competition and corporate management. As a result, UK HEIs did not generally need to reform to meet the action required by the Bologna accord.  However, in the highly politicised EHEA, this lack of Bologna inspired reform has been perceived in some quarters as a spirit of aloofness. This perception is largely unfair:  in many respects the UK has been an active and influential participant in European higher education reform. But the extent that this perception exists – and it does to some extent – it needs to be managed carefully in order to maintain the UK as an influential EHEA member. 

This paper draws together several studies in order to consider the implication of the Bologna Process and the resultant reforms in other European higher education systems for the future of the UK as a destination for international students. Although there is no immediate threat to the UK international student market, it cannot be complacent given the 8 per cent average income to UK HEIs from international student fees. Some of the possible threats are set out in this paper.