The report from the Chartered Association of Business Schools focuses on the recruitment trends of international students to one of the most popular course at university – business studies.
International students studying business contribute £2.4bn to universities and the UK economy but the latest figures published by the association reveal they are in decline.
Business school leaders are calling on the Government to change the policy on student visas to make Britain a more attractive place to study again.
One third of all international students in UK universities are studying in a business school. However, last year’s intake from outside the EU fell sharply by 8.6%, posing a risk to universities as the income made in business schools often subsidises other subjects and faculties which universities run at a loss.
The issue is even more acute on postgraduate taught programmes, such as the MBA, where 52% of students are international. These talented students help to create a diverse global experience on campus and as future entrepreneurs and business leaders they provide immeasurable value to the UK.
With course fees ranging from £10,000 - £60,000 these students represent a highly valuable share of income derived from student fees. The Chartered Association of Business Schools estimate that these students alone are worth over half a billion pounds per year in fees to universities, and a total of £1.1 bn to the economy when off-campus expenditure is factored in.
The UK has excellent business schools, with 15 ranked in the world’s top 100 by the FT Global MBA rankings. Despite this, business school leaders interviewed for this new report are witnessing prospective international students being turned off by Britain’s post-study work visa restrictions and choosing other countries to study instead.
One business school dean said: “The UK has become less attractive than the US, Canada or Australia - this is largely the consequence of post-study work visa issues.” Another commented that: “increased forecasts for student recruitment to the UK is La La land.”
Professor Simon Collinson, Chair, Chartered Association of Business Schools said: “In 2014/15 we experienced the sharpest decline of international students starting degree programmes in UK business schools. This report shows how this is damaging, not just for business schools and the universities that rely on their income, but in terms of the jobs and communities beyond our universities that are supported by the income from international students. Although our business schools remain competitive and our universities are amongst the best in world, international students are choosing other countries for their education because our immigration regulations make this country difficult, or unattractive, to enter.
“Not only are we turning away investment, we are turning away international talent. These skilled, entrepreneurial and globally mobile students are the leaders of tomorrow and the UK’s immigration policies should be designed to attract them so that our universities and our economy can benefit from the diversity and added value they bring.”
Not only are we turning away investment, we are turning away international talent
Neil Carberry, Director - Employment, Skills & Public Services, CBI said: “Educating the world’s top talent is a growth opportunity for the UK that we must capitalise on. It is also in our national interest to encourage the brightest and best to stay and work here where they have skills that are not readily available within the domestic labour market. We must ensure we harness the strengths of international students, including by developing a robust visa system which is not a barrier to studying at our great business schools.”
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK added: “Despite growing demand for quality higher education across the world, international recruitment figures in the UK over the last few years have not done justice to the world-class reputation of the UK’s universities and business schools. At the same time, competitor countries have seen rises in international student numbers.
Richard Heald, CEO, UK India Business Council also commented: “The UK has long been a major destination for the large numbers of Indian students who study overseas. These highly skilled individuals make a significant contribution to the finances of UK higher education institutions, especially those offering business related postgraduate courses. The decline in the numbers of these students should be a cause for concern and any link to changes in the conditions around post study work visas, whether perceived or otherwise, should be addressed as a matter of some urgency. The experiences of Indian students in the UK is an important facet of the trade and investment relations between the two countries.”