Cormack Consultancy - Market access in Europe


Welcome to our Summer 2018 newsletter, and we’d like to start by wishing you a good summer break.  The past few months have been very busy at CCG, we have brought on a number of new university and college clients and have expanded our geographic focus to include Canada and the CIS.


We are now running projects for UK clients in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Croatia, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Canada and the USA.  We are also opening dialogues with universities in a number of other markets.


In the past few months we have:

  • finalised a number of large scale TNE partnerships (Franchise, Validation);
  • set up a number of articulation agreements;
  • have ongoing discussions on a number of strategic partnerships which will allow for our UK clients to establish a base in Europe;
  • finalised a number of large consultancy and training contracts;
  • and finalised a number of course licencing deals.


Whist we expect things to quieten down about through July and August, we will also be looking at developing new strategies to support our university and college clients in developing their international presence.




Europe Update

Europe continues to be our busiest region, we have brought a number of new UK university clients on board, with our role being to help them to develop effective TNE partnerships in different parts of Europe.  As articulated above the number of EU countries we are working in continues to increase, and there is clearly an appetite from universities in Europe to engage with UK universities which are now much more open to developing proper strategic partnerships.


This increase inTNE and the development of growing numbers of English taught courses is also creating demand for UK colleges (and universities) offering support to European universities (mainly private) on the development of their staff’s English and lecturing skills.


As well as the work we are doing on developing university to university partnerships, we are also working on a number of very large TNE projects which are ultimately supported by the private sector in a couple of Central and Eastern European markets keen to secure a UK university to provide quality programmes to educate the staff they need.


We are working on one in particular in the Baltics which has the support of the national Government and a number of major international companies including Accenture, which will see the recruitment of up to 3,000 students a year to study computer science.

I have written an article below giving our thoughts on what happens with student recruitment from Europe following the publication of the governments White Paper on BREXIT.

What happens to EU Students Post Brexit??

This is the question that many UK universities are wrestling with at the moment, the Government’s recent announcement that EU students will continue to be able to access the tuition loan for a further year has kicked the can a little further down the road, but it is clear there is not much more road available.

When the Government finally issued the long-awaited White Paper outlining the Government’s negotiating position (even though their own party basically destroyed the position within 48 hours) it became clear that if we get what we want we will stay in the Erasmus programme, and that there will be an easy route for EU students to get the necessary paperwork to come and study. Both positive developments.

However, it is equally clear that EU students will not be able to continue to access their tuition loan, and without access to that loan the number of students able to afford to come and study here (even if fees are held at £9,250 for EU students) will tumble, probably dropping by around 85%.

So that means there are going to be around 100,000 mobile English-speaking students who won’t be coming to the UK. But one has to assume that a good percentage would still want a UK degree and UK experience if it were available.  So, the challenge is how a UK university can offer this.

Universities also should use this shake up in the status quo to see if new models could also provide a solution to increasing the number of non-EU international students able to study with them.

We believe there are a number of methods that UK universities should be considering, some obvious, and some maybe less so. These include:

  • A Presence in Europe. An increasing number of UK universities are now planning to go down this route, and it has obvious advantages (as well as risks). If you are able to establish yourself in a student friendly market, you will not only have a base to continue to offer programmes to EU students, but also potentially an ability to mitigate the risks of losing research funding, and create a hub for attracting international students from markets that it has been difficult to target in the past.

We are seeing lots of models under consideration, from acquisition, to joint venture to the establishment of a “campus within a campus” partnership model.  One comment I would make based on the projects we have seen is that the level of cash investment required is a lot lower than I had thought.

  • Dual Degree Programmes, in all their various flavours, either delivered exclusively in the partner university, or based on a mobility model (2+1, 3+1 or 1+1). With the right partner this can give good numbers, we have recently been developing projects with guaranteed numbers in the hundreds.
  • Feeder Programmes. We are looking at developing these with a number of private universities in key EU markets, their students would be able to complete the first part of their degree in a lower cost market before coming to the UK for the last year of their degree. We also think there could be scope to develop these relationships to provide a route for non-EU students who would either not have the English or financial means to come to the UK for a full programme. For example, they could do a Foundation year in the feeder university to get English level up etc before coming to the UK.
  • Articulation Routes. We are also looking at developing partnerships between universities in Europe offering UG provision, with UK universities offering Masters programmes, if the partnership consists of more than this (mobility and research) and is nurtured properly and the complete package marketed to certain international markets, we think this can provide a good number of students.

I also believe that BREXIT may offer colleges the chance to develop their HE offering to EU students, they will be able to deliver courses at a much lower cost than universities, and that is finally going to give them some competitive advantage.  We are already discussing this potential development with some of the biggest recruitment agents in the EU who believe there will be a demand for this type of provision.

North America

We are continuing to work on behalf of a number of universities and colleges in developing projects in the USA.  We are currently focusing on two specific areas, one is the development of articulation agreements with community colleges allowing students to come to the UK following the completion of their Associate Degree to complete their Undergraduate Degree in the UK.  Whilst still early days the early signs are very positive and Community Colleges seem very receptive.

The other area we are focusing on is the development of the US Apprenticeship market.  We believe that this will offer significant opportunities for UK universities and colleges to become involved in supporting institutions looking to develop their apprenticeship provision.

We have developed a model of identifying key relevant apprenticeship clients for our UK universities and colleges operating in the UK and USA. Approaching Community Colleges and universities in the vicinity of those companies and linking the relevant institutions to make an offer to the US offices of a product that is already being used in the UK.


Our current focus continues to be on Ukraine, since the last newsletter the Ukrainian Ministry of Education has identified eight leading Ukrainian universities that they will support in developing TNE and capacity building partnerships (money to fund available) with UK universities. We have now spoken with all of the Ukrainian universities and have started to set up meetings between them and UK universities.  We hope to take a number of UK universities to Ukraine in October for face to face meetings.

We are also developing another project with the Ministry which will be focused on improving the quality of vocational education in the market.  We believe this will mean opportunities for both UK universities and colleges interested in offering training and consultancy to Ukrainian technical school.


Canada is fast becoming an international education powerhouse. It has now overtaken the UK as the most attractive English-speaking country for EU students, according to a recent study that highlighted the damaging impact of the BREXIT vote on the UK university sector.  It also now ranks as the 4th most popular destination in the world for international students, with almost 500,000 international students enrolled in 2017, which was a 20% increase over the 2016 numbers.

As a result, we have started to focus activity in the market, to allow us to do this we have brought in a new associate who was until recently Head of International Partnerships for a leading UK regional university, and who has extensive knowledge and experience of the Canadian market.

We are focusing on the franchising of top up programmes to Canadian Community Colleges, and on the franchising of Masters programmes to universities not accredited to deliver Masters programmes.