The DBA, the Dr., and the hard Brexit

Published: 29 January 2019 | by Thomas Graf

The Brexit referendum from June 23, 2016 has not only created economic, political, and social insecurity, but also raised questions as to the acceptance of academic degrees and titles.

Germans who obtained a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from a British University, for instance, are concerned about being able to keep the valuable "Dr." title in front of their names in case of a hard Brexit. Similarly, DBA candidates are wondering whether enrolling in a British DBA program would still ultimately provide them with a "Dr." title.

Here is a summary of the most important questions and answers that may primarily affect German DBA candidates or graduates and may also apply to some extent to DBA candidates from other EU countries.

The DBA title with location after the name

First of all, the Lisbon Recognition Convention from 1997 includes the right to hold foreign titles awarded in countries that signed the Convention. The UK ratified the Convention in 2003, which means that even after a hard Brexit, it will still be possible to hold the DBA as title and add this, together with the name of the awarding institution, after the person's name.

· Example: Thomas Graf, DBA (University of XY)

The "Dr." before the name

So far, Germans, who obtained a DBA degree, can leave out the name of the awarding institution name after the DBA title - and they can replace the DBA title with the "Dr." title in front of their names, provided the institution is officially recognized in an EU country and the doctoral graduation was conducted according to academic standards. This was set out in a ruling by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany as part of their "begünstigte Regelungen für Ausländische Bildungsgrade" from 2001.

· Example: Thomas Graf, DBA

· Example: Dr. Thomas Graf

German DBA graduates from non-EU countries could only put the "Dr." title in front of their names if their respective institution's country was listed in the "begünstigte Regelungen für Ausländische Bildungsgrade".

Consequences of a hard Brexit

In the case of the Brexit, and particularly a hard Brexit with no bilateral regulations, DBA graduates will only be allowed to add the DBA title and the name of their university after their names. This applies to Germans who obtained their British DBA in the past as well as future DBA graduates from British institutions.

· Example: Thomas Graf, DBA (University of XY)

British Doctor of Business Administration: Next steps

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK) is currently discussing including the UK in the list of countries at the "begünstigte Regelungen für Ausländische Bildungsgrade" - and according to an informal source at the KMK, this outcome is very likely with a soft or a hard Brexit - even though it is still not 100% sure today and may take a few weeks or months until formally enacted.

Therefore, the advice to Germans who obtained a DBA at a British University is to stay calm, keep your "Dr." title and wait for the KMK's updated regulation in a couple of months. Even if this regulation does not come into place, most likely no one will ask you - according to an informal KMK source - to drop your "Dr." title even though you would be formally required to do so. The advice to Germans who wish to apply for a British DBA is to wait until the updated KMK regulation comes into place.