Next stop Lisbon, Paris and Amsterdam – Boris Walbaum, Founder and President of Forward College describes its multi-location degree courses

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” declared Mark Twain over a century ago, echoing a sentiment that had been shared by generations before him. That knowledge of different cultures and countries did indeed broaden the mind. Many of the world’s most successful people have spent time in cultures that are different from the one they grew up in.

Traditionally, a spell at an international university was the obvious place to start – either as a year abroad as part of a domestic degree, or, for the more adventurous, starting and finishing an undergraduate course overseas. The UK government’s withdrawal from the Erasmus exchange programme has curtailed young people’s access to the former, while departure from the EU has increased the costs of doing the latter in Europe. North America – another favourite destination for students – is also an option, but tuition is expensive, degrees take a minimum of four years, and it is a long way from home.

“Current students are learning about project management and teamwork by working with local social impact projects in Lisbon”

Forward College opened its doors to British students from this September and promises a 21st-century version of ‘the Grand Tour’. The first year is spent in Lisbon, the second in Paris and the third in Amsterdam. Students from Germany, France, Holland, Italy and Spain are already studying with us, and now those from the UK can join them. The joint honours programmes – in economics, politics, international relations, data science and psychology – are accredited by the University of London, taught in English and delivered under the direction of academics from the London School of Economics and King’s College London. Annual tuition fees for the International Double Bachelor’s degrees are competitive and scholarships and loans are available.

Forward College on studying abroad
The college offers multi-location degrees accredited by the University of London, and with an emphasis on practical and real-life learning opportunities

The College aims to open campuses in Berlin, Barcelona, and Milan in the near future, but the approach here isn’t just innovative because of locations offered, but also because it aims to instil the skills, values and perspectives demanded by employers in an increasingly interconnected world. There is emphasis on leadership, management and practical team-working. We do this by immersing our students in a ‘personal development curriculum’ alongside the academic one. From day one, students are encouraged to honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses, to set out their life goals and how they align with their values.

We also give students the opportunity to learn practically and in real life situations. For instance, current students are learning about project management and teamwork by working with local social impact projects in Lisbon. We teach them time and stress management skills, how to hold difficult conversations, manage their emotions and recognise unconscious bias. These elements are taught by experts from a wide range of fields, including former firefighters, UN mediators trained in conflict resolution and HR specialists.

Our degrees are challenging – not only are students expected to be academically able, they also need to be emotionally mature and capable of absorbing new ideas quickly – but the rewards can be immense. “In addition to my class and project work, I’ve also learnt about the idiosyncrasies of my fellow Europeans,” says Yohana Fontenla, a first-year Forward College student from Spain. “I now know that it’s considered bad form to email a French classmate after eight in the evening, and to not bat an eyelid when Germans pour yoghurt all over their pasta!”

Forward College

Further reading: Student choices – alternative pathways at 18