Could Brexit mean your international education is in French?
Anti-Brexit protesters wear masks and wave flags during a demonstration in front of the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, April 16, 2018. Source: Reuters/Simon Dawson

Britain is set to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019, sparking anxiety among many about its implications for the economy, politics and education.

Another issue raised is the future use of English as the official language of the EU given the departure of its largest English-speaking country.

The three working languages of the EU are French, German and English. After Brexit, only Ireland and Malta of the remaining EU states will use English as their official language domestically.

This undoubtedly would have implications for higher education across the continent, particularly in public policy schools, with many institutions offering English language courses.

“Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” remarked Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission last year.

Not all are convinced, however.

Karen Massin, CEO of the public affairs and communications agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe recently told France24 that “English is going to remain … the idea that French could revive after Brexit I think is very much of a sweet dream.”

Massin said that 51 percent of people in Europe can speak English as a second or third language – far higher numbers than French or German speakers.

Some 97 percent of students in the EU at lower secondary level outside Britain are learning English, compared to just 34 percent learning French and 23 percent German.

According to a BBC report from 2016, the number of university courses taught in English in non-English speaking countries had increased 300 percent over the previous seven years – particularly in countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

So, while England is leaving the EU, it looks like its language is sticking around.

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