Business Schools in UK Face International Enrollment Drop

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According to a recently released report, international business students in the UK are beginning to drop off in number, postponing their studies at universities in the country as a result of stricter visa policies.

The Chartered Association of Business Schools notes that currently, one-third of international students in the UK study in business schools, contributing around $3.3 billion every year to the universities in the country as well as the UK economy.  However, last year the number of international students in the country dropped by 8.6%.

As a result, £133.5 million less went to universities and the UK economy, according to CABS.  In addition, the report states that the loss could further affect universities because the money raised through business schools is often used to subsidize other subjects and faculties, writes John Elmes for Times Higher Education.

The report, “UK Business Schools and International Student Recruitment: Trends, Challenges and the Case for Change,” says that the decline could be a result of UK visa policy reforms, saying the changes made it more difficult for international students to obtain a post-study work visa.

“Allowable visa application refusal rates falling to a maximum of 10% have also made the recruitment process more difficult, with fears that a further tightening may be considered,” the report states.  “At the same time a more open and relaxed approach to international study visas in other countries, especially Australia, Canada and New Zealand, are putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage.”

The government announced the stricter visa reforms for international students looking to work in the country after graduation in May of 2011.  The new policy included a number of measures, such as requiring international graduates to have found an employer within four months of graduation that will offer them a position with a salary of at least $28,000, in addition to sponsoring them.

Those looking to start their own business in the UK would need to apply for a “Graduate Entrepreneur” visa and would need university sponsorship.

Rules concerning English language competence have also tightened, requiring students to now have an upper intermediate level of English.  According to the report, it is this policy that is perceived negatively by international students and causing a decrease in the number of students who attend UK schools from abroad.

The issue is the largest for postgraduate programs, such as the MBA, which are typically made up of up to 52% international students.  University courses in business and administration are popular throughout the country, with business schools enrolling one in five of all university students.  In all, 15 of the business schools in the UK have made it onto the world’s top 100 by the FT Global MBA rankings, reports Brendan O’Malley for University World News.

A number of key university and business bodies have supported the reports’ findings, including the Confederation of British Industry or CBI; Universities UK, which is the vice-chancellors’ body; and the UK India Business Council.

Neil Carberry, director of employment, skills and public services at CBI, said that the UK must take it upon themselves to educate the top talent throughout the world, and that encouraging the growth of international students would benefit not only local economies but also the building of global links.