Written by Camille Boblet—Ledoyen
The news of the closure of the University of Kent’s Brussels campus, without prior warning or consultation, for the June 2024 deadline, took not only the students and professors of the institute by surprise but also the entire academic world. This very damaging decision risks relegating the University to a national or even regional rank. More generally, it is one of the many signs of the decline of the United Kingdom from a world power to a middle power.
The Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a graduate school of the University of Kent, located in Brussels, Belgium. It was established in 1998 as a joint venture between the University of Kent and the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). BSIS offers a range of interdisciplinary master’s degree programmes in international relations, conflict analysis, development, and law, as well as a PhD program. BSIS provides a unique learning experience for students worldwide, focusing on international affairs and European integration. The faculty comprises internationally renowned experts in their fields who engage in cutting-edge research and teach courses that cover a wide range of topics, including global governance, human rights, international security, and conflict resolution.
The importance of the Brussels campus makes the decision to close it all the more regrettable. By deciding to close its campus by June 2024, the University of Kent risks weakening its position and glowing reputation in a lasting way. Students from the Brussels campus will probably not move to Canterbury and will choose not to continue their studies at the University. As the United Kingdom is a non-member of the European Union, leaving Brussels for Canterbury is all the more complex and difficult. The University of Kent’s location in Brussels, a city of European and NATO institutions, was a wise choice, and its closure means that it loses the international dimension that made it so attractive. The university administration says budget costs and inflation are responsible for the decision. Broken Chalk regrets that education and empowerment are the primary victims of austerity policies. The closure of such a strategic campus not only for the University of Kent but for the British educational model is simply beyond the academic realm. The British government should accompany and financially support its universities for its own influence, for its attractiveness, and to finally remain a global power. A country that does not invest in education is a country doomed to decline – and deserve to.
To paraphrase Richard III: “A university! My Kingdom for a University!”