Q: Why bother to apply to the College of Europe given Brexit?
A: One of the oddities of the Brexit story is that European expertise is recognised to be even more valuable than before. In any case, a good understanding of Europe is also an excellent foundation for wider international work.
Q: What scholarships are available for UK applicants to the College of Europe?
A: The Scottish Government offers up to three scholarships for applicants based in Scotland. Brunat offers scholarships (tuition fees only) to students who are accepted by the College but are not able to raise their own funds. Serving UK civil servants can apply for a limited number of scholarships requiring a commitment to EU/international facing jobs for three years after graduation. The College’s campus in Natolin offers a few Geremek scholarships to students with a historian background and planned dissertation topic. The College also offers European Neighbourhood Policy scholarships to candidates who indicate that they have a plausible ENP-focused dissertation topic.
Q: Why study European law?
A: UK-based companies, NGOs, and citizens will continue to be affected by the reach of European law. Much remains to be determined in a settlement for the longer term, but we can be sure that the need for lawyers well versed in the intricacies of European law will increase not diminish.
Q: How good does my French have to be?
A: For the Law specialism your French needs to be pretty good – reasonably so given that the Court of Justice of the EU retains French as its primary working language. For the politics, IRD and economics programmes at the College some knowledge of French is needed for some of the modules and a willingness to improve is desirable. There is also the option to do an intensive French course during the summer before your MA begins, or during your time in Bruges or Natolin. There are plenty of opportunities for improving your competence in other languages as well.
Q: What message should I send to my undergraduate university to urge students to apply to the College of Europe?
A: The College of Europe offers a special experience, both professionally and personally. Just look at the feedback from former students. Moreover, European expertise will be needed more, not less, as we adjust to post-Brexit Britain and the need to quickly establish new international trade agreements, standards and cross-border partnerships. Through the various modules available, and the chance to write a thesis of your choosing, the College prepares students to work on and tackle the many shared global challenges we face which do not respect individual country borders, including climate change, global poverty, and ensuring a strong global economy. And the learning does not stop when you graduate. The College has a strong, global network of former students and thousands of alumni hold high-profile positions in politics, diplomacy, law and business, both in Brussels and around the world.
Q: What are my prospects for employment with a Masters from the College of Europe?
A: EU skills and the amazing network you get at the College help to boost your career prospects. Look at the record of former Brunat scholars and their varied and interesting careers. Their experience is widely shared by other UK alumni of the College. The need of UK organisations for European expertise is set to increase as a result of Brexit, not to diminish. There are numerous organisations in Brussels – as in other international hubs – where talent and EU expertise is the requirement, rather than nationality. A lot of work goes on around the EU institutions (NGOs, think tanks, consultancies, trade associations and academia) and EU expertise and language skills are also useful in international organisations (e.g. UN, World Bank Group and OECD). Native English speakers are particularly sought after in international organisations—especially if they also have some competence in French or German. For competitive jobs, this has helped give College alumni an edge in the competition for interesting jobs.
Q: What makes the College’s Masters programmes so distinctive?
A: The curriculum is taught by both top-level academics and highly experienced practitioners. You will learn soft professional skills and core competences as well as substantive expertise. For example, the IRD programme at Bruges features aspects of diplomatic training, such as conflict resolution and negotiation training, and a practical simulation exercise. You will also get the rare opportunity to live in one of two great cities, Bruges or Natolin (Warsaw). Both have beautiful surroundings and sights for you to explore when you are not head down in books or have visitors! If you didn’t know how to work hard before, you will now. The programme is hyper-intensive. The experience of living cheek by jowl with fellow students from some 50 different countries will also teach you a lot outside the classroom.