Are International Students Abandoning Business Schools in the UK?
February 20th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
Long known as “The World’s Classroom,” the United Kingdom has long been able to take advantage of its highly regarded colleges and universities. As the nation has entered a new century, international students have provided a key source of capital – both monetary and intellectually – and contributed to its ongoing dynamism. Given its prowess both academically and financially, business schools in particular have been a magnet for international students and a strong earner for the UK economy as a whole. Recent changes to the UK’s student visa regulations, however, may have made it more difficult for even the more prominent MBA programs in the country to attract students from abroad.
Indeed, the number of students enrolled in the UK’s MBA programs – there are about 150 nationwide – has fallen dramatically since these regulations were announced in 2011 and introduced in April 2012. Enrollment in the nation’s top programs is at their lowest level in eight years and more than 20 percent lower than their 2010 highs. Because more than 80 percent of all MBA students studying in the UK are from outside the country, this fall is doubtless because of a decline in international students enrollment in general.
Though there were a number of changes introduced to the country’s student visa policies at the time, many at the country’s top business schools cite one factor as the most decisive: more rigorous limits on the ability of international students to work in the UK after graduation. Though other factors – such as the decline of the UK’s international student loan market and the country’s on-going financial turmoil – surely play a part, the fact that it is harder to secure employment after graduation has doubtless reduced the value of the UK MBA package as a whole. What remains to be seen, then, is how business schools around the country – trapped as they are between a legislative “rock” and a demographic “hard place” – will redesign this package in the years to come.